Young gardeners from Junaluska Elementary School won first place recently in a landscape design competition at the N.C. Master Gardeners conference in Raleigh.
The Junaluska school garden is planted, maintained and harvested by 40 first- and second-graders working with a dozen master gardener volunteers.
Soon after the garden’s modest beginning in 2002, Tim Mathews, horticultural agent at the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, brought a small group of master-gardener volunteers on board. Since then, the garden has grown to 3,000 square feet where more than 30 different vegetables are integrated with annuals, perennials, herbs and blueberries.
“We couldn’t do what we do without the tremendous support and enthusiasm of the teachers and other school staff,” said volunteer Jane Young. “It has been a marvelous undertaking. The kids get so excited participating in this process of nurturing the soil and producing really good, interesting food. The sheer beauty of the garden with so many colors and shapes and fragrances, butterflies, and even a resident tree swallow, makes it a wonderful place for children and adults to work together.”
Mathews said that the success of the program at Junaluska has led to the initiation of similar programs at Hazelwood Elementary School and Riverbend, both in Haywood County.