School Garden
Logan-Hocking Middle
Submitted by: Summer Ballinger

During the last month and a half of the 2021 - 2022 school year, Mrs. Summer Ballinger’s 5th and 6th grade TAG math classes began working on a service learning project to incorporate mathematical skills that they had learned throughout the course of the year (as well as some new ones), while also helping to better our school and community.

5th graders took on the task of designing their own planter boxes to plant native flowering plants to attract pollinators to our garden. They each drew a blueprint, and my husband (Garred Ballinger) and Cort Forgrave cut all of our donated pieces of wood to their specifications so that they could build their visions. Missy McCrady was very helpful in the completion of assembly, as well! They were then able to paint the outsides of their boxes to reflect their own personal styles; a cow design, neon, fairy gardens, and one student even had my four year old daughter help her paint.

6th graders took on the vegetable portion of the project. They designed the layout themselves by each student creating a blueprint and collectively voting on their favorite layout with regards to walkability and ease of planting and caretaking after the structures had been built. Each group of students then built raised garden beds to plant their vegetables in, researched appropriate planting distances, and companion plants that should be placed in the same garden beds. They measured to ensure that their garden beds were evenly spaced from the center, they measured and calculated the appropriate angle for our fencing in order to have each side be (really close to) 50 feet long using the pythagorean theorem, and they created their stepping stone design as well.

What is even more amazing is that my students will also be working to maintain the garden over the summer time by following a class created schedule via Google calendar. And even more so, the kids would like to donate any produce to our cafeterias and food banks to help those in need. I was truly blessed this year with an incredible group of students that I will never forget. They have such kind hearts, and it has been wonderful to be able to watch them flourish throughout the duration of their work on this project. They each really gave it their all.

In the coming years we will expand the amount of vegetable beds that we have, and my students will create new planter boxes for flowering plants next year. We also added in plants from Green elementary school to work collaboratively on a butterfly garden that we hope to expand together in the future.

They started with a patch of grass and have transformed the area into something truly remarkable. Their flowering plants and vegetables are planted, blooming, and we are so excited to see how they progress! This truly has been a labor of love, and my students led all of the work that was done. They have worked so hard, and I am so very proud of them. Everything that we used to create our garden was donated, or purchased with donated funds. The kids have worked so hard to see this project through to fruition, and it has turned out so much more amazingly than I ever even thought that it would! We are so thankful for all of the support that we received from the community of Logan.

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