There are magical things happening at Rockwood South Middle School. On any given day, you will find teachers, students, volunteers and neighbors coming together to maintain the school garden and chicken coop.
In an almost entirely donation-driven effort, the Rockwood South Garden Club has filled planters built by the Boy Scouts with fruits and vegetables grown from seeds donated by Lowe's, all of it used to benefit the students and school.
Lisa Smarr, head of the Garden Club, built an oasis for anyone interested in helping.
“I’m here every day for a couple hours to keep this going through the quarantine,” said Smarr.
Since the school closures due to COVID-19 started word has spread about the garden, and neighbors have pitched in to keep it going.
“A neighbor approached me saying there was a rumor going around that we had a garden and asked if we needed help,” said Smarr. “Since then we have had neighbors showing up with their little ones to help weed, harvest and feed the chickens every day.”
Garden Club used to meet every Thursday but has now moved to Mondays at 6 p.m.
Smarr said that the new Monday meeting time allows the club to donate its crops each week to the Rockwood Got Your Back Pack program.
Food from the garden is also used to benefit families from the school.
“The school social worker gives food to needy families,” said Toni Berhorst, Child Nutrition Services Manager at Rockwood South Middle.
Food is not the only thing growing in this garden. Many friendships have grown from time spent nurturing the garden.
"There was a child from China who spoke almost no English. On her first day, a student used their phone to translate and asked the girl if she would like to stay after to help in the garden," explained Smarr. "This is a safe haven for kids. It is great to watch friendships bloom as much as the seeds that are planted."
Garden Club will continue to meet every Monday afternoon at Rockwood South Middle School. All volunteers are welcome. For more information contact Keisha Parrish at email@example.com.