After months of designing and planning, White Oak Elementary School’s long-awaited garden installation day finally arrived on Saturday, March 30th; The local community gathered in inspiring numbers to transform an unassuming patch of grass in the courtyard into the foundation of a bountiful teaching garden. Despite predicted rainstorms, the sky remained clear and sunny throughout, and the excitement in the air was palpable. 

Families began arriving just before 9am, eager to get to work on the first task of sheet mulching the lawn in order to create a base for constructing the raised garden beds. Rolling out the large tubes of garden paper quickly became a favorite activity for six-year-old Milo and his little sister, who commented that they were very excited for other students to see the space on Monday morning. “It will look so beautiful!” Milo exclaimed. Their mother, Annie, beamed at their great work, and agreed: “What we love about working with Each Green Corner is that we get to come in and just work without us having to do all the planning and prep, with a team that knows what they’re doing and can direct us so that our hands can be the most helpful, and it’s wonderful to have such a strong vision that we as a community can realize.”

Once garden paper was covering the ground, volunteers began rolling in fleets of wheelbarrows teeming with mulch. The carts were often pulled by family and friend duos working together; Once such duo was Olivia, a first grader at White Oaks, and her mother, Emily, who expressed her joy at being a founding member of this outdoor learning space: “ I am so excited watch this garden grow while my kids grow, and to see how they incorporate all of the lessons that they’re going to bring from the garden into the classroom.” Olivia said that she really enjoys gardening and reading up on the topic at home, and that her favorite thing to do in the garden is “to lay down and look up at the blue sky.” She is looking forward to learning more about plants and animals through her school garden. 

After hours of dedicated shoveling, carting and raking, the courtyard’s lawn was finally covered, and it was time to begin the final step of the day: Assembling and filling the raised garden beds. This task was eagerly tackled by the White Oaks dads, many of whom had brought along their own tool bags to the workday, just in case. One of these dads was Byron, who built a raised bed with the help of his wife, Diana, and three children: Marileni (1st grade), Byron Jr. (3rd grade), and Darlene (7th grade). It even turned out that the garden installation day coincided with Byron Jr.’s birthday! “He heard his dad wanted to come and help out, so he thought it’d be extra special to be able to do this as a family on his special day,” Diana explained, “This will be his last year at White Oaks so it’s exciting that he’s still going to have this connection to the school after he leaves; He’ll still have some of his sweat and joy and laughter here, and when he can come back to visit he’ll be able to see the garden and be like ‘I was here, I helped to do this.’”

Volunteers continued working dutifully until clean-up time at 4pm, when they finally had a chance to stand back and admire their tremendous accomplishment; In place of a plain, green lawn now stood a fresh, new garden full of possibilities! All in all, nearly eighty community volunteers came out and dedicated their Saturday to make this outdoor learning space a reality. The workday closed with exhilarated chatter around a feast of fruit, juice boxes, and a tray of delicious blueberry coffee cake generously donated by Hobee’s Restaurant. It was a truly productive and inspiring community event!


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