It was inspiring to watch a few hundred schoolchildren working furiously with trowels and hands, digging holes, planting flowers, bushes, fruit and vegetable seeds, and not tossing dirt on each other.
That was the scene at the reconstructed Piney Point Elementary (Pagewood Lane at Fondren) as the school dedicated and installed new community gardens, in partnership with the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company's GRO1000 national program to create, well, a thousand gardens around the world.
The project began in Mrs. Darren Fisher's science lab, with the most basic of motivational questions: "Do you like pizza?" That, of course, was an introduction to the herbs and vegetables which make up a desirable pie. The notion blossomed into growing the plants in the lab, then a grant application by Mrs. Fisher and Karen North, which attracted the large community turnout.
Scotts Miracle-Gro provided piles of mulch, pallets of organic soil, and thousands of flowers, bushes and seeds. After the dedication ceremony, the students, with adult volunteers from Memorial Drive Presbyterian, Keep Houston Beautiful, teachers and other community members, swarmed to the empty space from the recently bulldozed old school and transformed a large part of the lot into a series of edible, butterfly, prairie, and rain gardens.
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Bill Dawson of the Franklin Park Conservancy showed fifth-graders the proper planting depth and spacing for carrots, cucumbers, peppers and okra, which elicited several "yucks."
The mature plants from the lab will be replanted, with a purpose. Mrs. Fisher is very pleased with her students' enthusiasm for growing, and she said, "I want to give back to them, and the best way to do that is to create a garden where my children can grow their own vegetables and herbs, without using pesticides, and give a portion of their proceeds to Iglesia Fuente de Esperanza."
Scotts Miracle-Gro GRO1000 is a partnership with Keep America Beautiful, the Garden Writers Association, Plant a Row for the Hungry, the National Gardening Association, Franklin Park Conservancy, along with the City of Houston and Keep Houston Beautiful. Its other installation in Houston is the Westbury Community Garden.