Fifth graders at Andy Woods Elementary School are learning how to plant, care for and harvest a variety of fruits and vegetables with the help of the “Giving Garden.” Created by former Andy Woods student, and current Robert E. Lee Red Raider Jonathan Graham, the Giving Garden located at Pollard United Methodist Church gives students a fun and interactive learning experience that also helps give back to the community.
A four-year Boy Scout, Jonathan began preparing last year for his Eagle Scout project, but had trouble coming up with a project idea.
“My family and I were able to go to Europe last summer for my sister's graduation,” Jonathan said. “While there, in a small town in England called Bath, we stumbled upon a sprawling community garden. It was evident that everyone involved really had a passion for what they were doing and spent much time working in their little areas. After having trouble thinking of a worthwhile Eagle Scout project for quite some time, I thought that this might be a cool idea to take with me back to Tyler.”
The Giving Garden is an opportunity for fifth graders to learn the basics of gardening by growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables such as carrots, lettuce, turnips, onions, broccoli, beets, radishes, tomatoes, peas, squash, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, okra, eggplant, corn and even pineapple pears. Master Gardeners and church volunteers help teach the students in the garden every Thursday. Jonathan named the garden the “Giving Garden” because the fruits and vegetables harvested are donated to the PATH (People Attempting to Help) organization.
Although there are still some aspects Jonathan feels he needs to complete, the church and volunteers now manage the garden.
“One of the main points of this project was to create an experience that elementary school kids can look forward to once they're in fifth grade for years and years to come,” Jonathan said. “With the church taking over, hopefully this sustainable ideal will come to fruition, and I am thankful for all of the support I have received from the church and the community as a whole, as well as the willingness of Andy Woods Elementary to give me a shot at making a difference.”