Hawken School 8th graders build 4 raised beds at Willow Community Garden

Students didn’t like the way food scraps smell but learned how compost goes from smelly to ‘earthy’; Eloise bus driver

By Gregory Jackson

Hawken School at Willow 2015 (4)

Ten 8th grade Hawken Schools students built four raised beds using our compost/soil mix, mulch donated by Hawken Schools.

Nearly a year ago Groundz began delivering food scraps from celebrity chefs at Willow Community Garden.  We are amazed by the generosity, talent, and hard work of Hawken School students.  Eloise, Hawken School bus driver who tended a garden site at Willow Community Garden, had passed away.  In her memory (and on a newly painted rain barrel), students honor her memory by slowly transforming this formerly vacant lot at Glazier Avenue and Nursery Avenue into a beautiful community garden.

Salonica Payne, urban grower and Willow Community Garden keeper, has been maintaining the garden to help Forward Church food ministries and introduce the community to healthy food through local food.

Mr. Peter Thomas, whose class also helped us clear debris last year to begin a compost area for Cleveland Metroparks’ Merwin’s Wharf food waste for composting.  Students used most of Merwin’s Wharf compost to add organic soil mix for raised beds, but we do have room to serve other Tremont restaurants at Willow Community Garden.

Revitalizing formerly vacant sites has its challenges.

“When I heard about the mulch delivery the Hawken groundskeeper worried about theft,” said Thomas.  “But maybe chaining the rain barrels might draw attention to something of value.”

Both cedar used to build raised beds and the mulch was donated by Hawken School.  Students plan to construct four more raised beds and matching mulch on the other side of Willow Community Garden or we may suggest a permaculture-type design using native wildflowers to attract beneficial pollinators like honeybees, butterflies, and other insects beneficial for growing.

Mr. Thomas said they would like to finish the garden this fall.

“I have to wait that long?” said Payne.

Hawken School at Willow 2015 (5)

(Photos courtesy of Mr. Peter Thomas.  Urban grower Mrs. Salonica Payne, Willow Garden keeper on far right.)

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