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MMS Garden is a Labor of Love

The garden at the Millbrook Middle School is a work in progress but starting to bloom with the future goal for students to be more self-sufficient.

Family & Consumer Science Teacher Eilis Petrosino’s association with the garden goes as far back as Fall 2019 when she was asked to take it over after it sat dormant for a short while. Substantial work on the garden, such as the construction of plant beds and a shed, was only recently completed due to school not being in session during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The MMS Community Garden complete with a shed.

“We had to take this last year to get everything squared away,” Petrosino said. “It just finally got together in the past month.”

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program is assisting through August with gardening duties and picking out the produce, which will help as not as much staff is around during summer months and after school hours during the year.  

“They can also be over here during the week, just checking on things,” Petrosino said. “There was not that collaborative situation before, so that’s going to be good for us.”

Some of the vegetables being grown are tomatoes, yellow squash, cucumber and beets, but in the winter months students will grow pumpkins and other gourds. 

Petrosino hopes to use the vegetables in her culinary classes and potentially run a community-supported agriculture program where staff can take produce and flowers home for a small fee that goes towards the school’s Garden Club. 4-H members will also take some of the produce home.

 

 Produce is a bounty in these plant beds in the MMS Community Garden.

“The Garden Club kids would pick something on a Thursday and drop it off to people on Friday,” she explained. “There’s a lot that’s coming, it’s just a very slow process.”

The goal of the garden is for students to be able to grow their own food and not be as dependent on other avenues. That mantra is having an effect, as many of Petrosino’s students now have their own home gardens. She hopes to see more students participate in the future.

“What we produce in our garden from mid-July to late November, we eat all year,” Petrosino said of her own home garden. “We all need to learn to get back to basics a little bit.”