A Garden Is Born
Posted on: Sunday, September 28, 2014 by Darryl McCullough
The Bay Haven Elementary School Garden was conceived some time ago, but it was born last Saturday. A collaborative effort of the U. S. Green Building Council, Slow Food Greater Sarasota, and Bay Haven Elementary School, it's situated on a sizable rectangle of land at the school, I'd guess at least 35-by-125. Oriented east-west, it will catch a lot of summer sun, though not much in the winter. Sheltered by the surrounding buildings and less than a mile from the bay, hard freezes will not be a worry.
The Manasota fruit tree clubs really did our part. Among the key organizers for the project were MRFC and TFSS member Jayne Cobb, and TFSS member Roger Landry. The TFSS itself donated a handsome 3-gallon Cogshall mango, and the MRFC contributed a bag of Fruitilizer. From Larry Atkins--- past president of both clubs--- a 7-gallon Lemon Meringue (Po Pyu Kalay) mango. Gary Patton of the TFSS (and the Venice-based Suncoast club) brought a red guava, a jaboticaba, a Pakistani mulberry, and many other plants. Ice Cream Bananas came from MRFC/TFSS member Harry Weaver and Kim Giaccardo of the TFSS, and MRFC/TFSS members Richard and Ania Smith added several more banana plants. Other donations from club members included katuk, Okinawa spinach, cranberry hibiscus, longevity spinach, milkweed, perennial peanut, bunching onions, garlic chives, and Malabar spinach, and others.
Many others contributed plants as well, and a local nursery discounted some trees. There were miracle fruits and blueberries, an Arkin carambola, a Choquette avocado, even a cacao tree. I saw lemongrass, sugar cane, aloe, shampoo ginger, coral honeysuckle, porterweed, and various ornamentals such as dwarf firebush and lantana. Herbs came from Dufore Family Farms.
Parents and high school volunteers provided much of the labor, but several club members got their fingernails dirty too. The project organizers were in the thick of things all day, of course. TFSS and new MRFC member Josh Starry seemed to be everywhere I looked. Gary Patton, past president of TFSS, put in a full day, as did TFSS/MRFC member Ellen Teeter. Your gentle blogger didn't match these stalwarts, but worked up a bit of a sweat on the fruit trees and blueberry plants. Besides some heavy lifting, club members provided considerable knowledge about plant placement and care.
The enlightened teachers at Bay Haven are off to a wonderful start, and aspire to even more down the road. Schools are such a perfect place for gardens and fruit groves. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that a natural learning laboratory for the students, interesting and diverse rainwater-capturing landscaping, color, shade and, of course, healthy and delicious food straight from the garden and grove ought to rank somewhere up there with butting heads on the football field. I hope there will be more such opportunities for our clubs to pass on our accumulated knowledge and our passion for growing our own.