The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) visited Broadneck High School this fall to present the Earth Team Regional Group Volunteer Award to the school’s Signature Program.
State conservationist Suzy Daubert presented the award to Signature students Aesah Culley-Simmons, Ellie Eger, Nolan Gille, Conor Keating and Olivia West. While countless students have had a hand in installing and maintaining the Broadneck High School People’s Garden, these five students are the founders of the garden.
In fall 2022, after a field trip to the People’s Garden in Washington, D.C., Signature Program students and teachers were inspired. They had learned that the first-ever People’s Garden, created in 2009 in honor of Abraham Lincoln, started a movement of agricultural education. Since then, People’s Gardens have been created throughout the nation and have brought together people and their communities.
By learning about the power of these gardens, the Broadneck High School Signature Program felt a garden would be beneficial for the school and nearby community. Their version of the garden opened in spring 2023 and has already provided educational opportunities for students and strengthened program partnerships with the community.
Installing a garden from scratch is no easy feat, and these motivated students needed to overcome the challenges of flooding, approvals, summer care, and funding. Since the Signature Program wanted to keep the garden fully sustainable and organic, their work was cut out for them.
This team of volunteers never gave up, however, seeing every challenge as a new opportunity for growth.
The Broadneck People’s Garden team recalls noticing many pollinators in this garden after only a few months of hard work, igniting any lost passion and encouraging them to take risks in the future. As the nearby school landscape shows no signs of pollinators, this was encouraging. When accepting the award, Broadneck students expressed their desire to grow new things in the future, wanting to stay involved through the new transitions of the garden.
Soon, the Signature Program students and teachers plan to plant garlic, lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, as well as start a pumpkin patch for the preschool students in the school.
Volunteers have started donating fresh-grown food to shelters. Since this garden is open to the public, individuals all around the area can visit the People’s Garden and connect with nature on their own.
The volunteers of this People’s Garden want to teach other students and community members about the possibilities of organic gardening. They want individuals to take risks by creating their own gardens, learn about the importance of organic growing, and press the practice of sustainability.
The Broadneck High School People’s Garden was made possible by donations from Cape Conservation Corps, Cape St. Claire Garden Club, Cape St. Claire Improvement Association, Chaney Enterprises, the Education Foundation of Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Lowe’s Home Improvement and the Magothy River Association.
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