St. Petersburg, FL – When The Edible Peace Patch Project initially proposed a garden at Melrose Elementary, similar to four other gardens they have installed in Title 1 Elementary Schools, Principal Nanette Grasso was enthused. However, the plan was rejected because the site is a designated brownfield area (the ground cannot be penetrated). Melrose was built on a hazardous waste site, rendering the ground unusable.
In an interesting twist, shortly after this disappointment, an amazing thing happened. The Phi Theta Kappa Club at St. Petersburg College approached Kip Curtis, the Peace Patch director with an idea. They had members who were also in the Engineering Club and working on hydroponics. Unaware of the situation at Melrose, they asked, “Would the Peace Patch be interested in a hydroponic garden?” Curtis responded with a resounding “yes”, knowing that this would be the perfect solution for Melrose. The school immediately signed on and to complete the project, Garden Patch GrowBoxes (http://www.agardenpatch.com/ ) donated their grow boxes to build the hydroponic garden structure. The culmination of this terrific partnership will occur on Saturday January 11th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. when the new garden is installed.
The Edible Peace Patch Project, is now beginning its sixth year of building and staffing educational schoolyard gardens in St. Petersburg. The organization is installing three new schoolyard gardens this January, including the special hydroponic garden at Melrose. (See schedule of all installations below.)
With these installations, the organization expands from managing four gardens to seven, thanks to Pinellas County Schools and generous contributions from the Whole Kids Foundation, the Pruitt Family Foundation, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
“We are able to expand in part because we have found tremendous volunteer support from the St. Petersburg Community,” explains Peace Patch Executive Director Kent Curtis. “We get dozens of people showing up for garden installations.”
The new gardens will allow almost 1,000 new elementary school students the opportunity to experience the benefits of schoolyard garden education, says Curtis. “Studies show that students learn better when their learning is active, and recent research shows even greater learning taking place in schoolyard gardens. These are multipurpose gardens, showcasing the health and nutrition benefits of growing fruits and vegetables. But
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within the garden, elementary students also receive academic support lessons connected to the common core learning standards.”
This is the third January in a row that the Edible Peace Patch Project has installed schoolyard gardens.
To volunteer at one of the installations, please visit: www.SignUpGenius.com/go/10C0C45ABAA23A0FE3-newgarden
SCHEDULE OF GARDEN INSTALLATIONS:
Saturday January 11th – 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Melrose Elementary Hydroponic Garden, 1752 – 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg Special volunteers: Staff from the Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club
Saturday, January 18th – 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
John Hopkins Elementary, 701 16th St South, St. Petersburg
Saturday, January 25th – 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Fairmont Park Elementary, 575-41st St. S., St. Petersburg
Special volunteers: USF St. Petersburg Garden Club; St. Petersburg Junior League; 40 from Dixie Hollins High School Honor Society
About The Edible Peace Patch Project:
The Edible Peace Patch Project (http://peacepatch.org) is a not for profit organization based in St. Petersburg that uses schoolyard educational gardens and food system intervention to address health and educational needs in St. Petersburg’s most at-risk public schools. The Peace Patch began in 2009 when a group of college students convinced their professor, Dr. Kip Curtis, to help them learn to grow food. In exchange he asked them to build their own classroom on the schoolyard of one of the most at-risk elementary schools in the county and offer standard-based lessons to the kids who visited them. Four years later Dr. Curtis and his students are cultivating four gardens, with plans to add four more in the coming school year as well as build an urban farm and commercial kitchen on the south side of St. Petersburg. Test results show higher science scores because of these gardens and anecdotes about boys not only staying in school, but also beginning to do award-winning work.
Dr. Curtis, Melrose, Johns Hopkins and Fairmont Park teachers and some of their students are available for
interviews at the garden installation days.
Representatives of the media are invited to visit any of the Garden events and interview/photograph
participating students. Please contact Kip Curtis at email@example.com or 727-320-6822.