Garden of Hope in Fayetteville helps students flourish academically and socially

Students prepare the garden for vegetables that were harvested in the fall. Photo/Special.

Educational and personal growth is happening in the Garden of Hope behind the Fayette County Alternative School, providing students a place to learn and call their own.

Nearly one year ago teacher Margo Wimbish was awarded a grant from the Georgia Science Teachers Association to make a dream come true, the construction of a school campus garden that would provide a living science lab for students enrolled in biology, environmental science, earth science, chemistry, physics and other science electives. Due to space and staff constraints, the school has been unable to have a traditional science lab.

Students constructed and planted raised garden beds with materials purchased through the grant and donations from the Kiwanis Club of McIntosh Trail of Peachtree City. They had their first harvest this fall that consisted of collards, carrots, onions, cabbage, broccoli and spinach.

“For many students, this was a first time experience. The ability to pick, wash and eat fresh vegetables was a special treat. They were amazed by the growth and were protective of their sections of garden,” said Wimbish.

While the garden has provided hands-on instructional activities, it also has helped students develop soft skills needed for success both inside and outside the classroom. These skills include collaboration (working in groups to plant and maintain the garden), creativity (designing the garden space), critical thinking (finding solutions to help plants grow healthier and better), and communication (seeking donations by keeping the community informed about the progress of the garden).

Wimbish says she has applied for more grants to expand the garden by adding a butterfly garden, compost bins, seating and water barrels to collect run-off water from the roofs of surrounding buildings. She is also planning to construct a special lab area where students can conduct experiments and compete in the county’s science fair.

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