The project includes an edible fruit garden, composting area, and several planters near the school with pollinating fruit trees. In addition, we will add a small shed housing tools to maintain the gardens and compost bins. The edible garden is situated at bottom of a stairwell that many Wilmerding residents use as a pathway to the town center, making it an ideal location for community involvement and education.
Several classes will be involved in the initial assessment and planting/building for the garden areas. The Environmental Science class will study the soil pH and conditions for the fruit trees. They will collaborate with special needs students from the Science Foundations and Transitions classes. Finally, the Technical Theater students will assemble and install the shed and compost bins. The flagpole installation and initial planting will take place on a weekend when family members are available to assist.
As the garden develops and the fruit trees pollinate, the Advanced Biology and AP Environmental Science classes can study pollination and interactions between the flowers and pollinators in the local area. In addition, the students can develop a basic composting program that will include plant waste from the cafeteria meals and garden clipping and leaves from the campus. This knowledge of compost as a waste management tool is a valuable lesson in what happens to unused parts of fruits and plants. The toolshed and compost bins are in nearby areas of the school parking lot, allowing access to tools necessary for maintaining the garden.
Wilmerding is in traditional industrial valley and has undergone many environmental crises through the years. The garden will include a flagpole so that students can participate in the School Air Quality Flag program supported by GASP and the Pennsylvania Resources Council. Each day, a flag of the appropriate color will be raised as an indication of the Air Quality Index. This information is useful to both school members and the local community as there have been several hazardous air quality events within the past year. Planting trees and other plants can also be a positive way to counteract the air quality issues in the region.
The edible garden will provide enriching opportunities for the visual and literary arts students to observe natural objects and create educational signage for the larger community. The students can decorate rain barrels, planters and the surrounding areas of the campus. They can photograph and draw the flowers, trees and fruit. The artwork and photographs will be featured in school social media and art installations. The school will feature the garden during several community programs, including the annual Homecoming/Fall Festival and Art in the Park in May. Student-led tours and educational materials will be provided to family members and Wilmerding residents.