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Hollis Hand Elementary School revitalizes school garden

Hollis Hand Elementary students will soon have a new outdoor educational space centered on agriculture and gardening, according to a press release sent from the Troup County School System.

Thanks to the hard work of PTO volunteers and with the guidance of UGA Cooperative Extension agents, the school now features four new 4-foot-by-8-foot raised garden beds outside the Early Education Wing.

“The PTO is proud to support initiatives that broaden the horizon of our students and provide them with additional learning opportunities beyond the traditional classroom setting,” said PTO President Laura Lynn Keese in the press release.

There were only two beds on site before Hollis Hand parent Maryanne Lovejoy saw an opportunity to revitalize and expand the space. Lovejoy then coordinated with extension agents, the PTO and school administration to make this project a reality.

“It is exciting to kick off the school garden program,” Lovejoy said. “I look forward to helping teach children about fresh produce, how food is grown, the food supply, nature and pollinators in an outdoor classroom environment. We hope that the program will teach problem solving skills, allow children to take pride in their work and build confidence.”

Materials and labor were donated by the Hollis Hand PTO, and local UGA Cooperative Extension Agents provided advice on bed design and site layout. During the school year, extension can also facilitate Farm to Fork programs for the students, as well as provide teachers with an agriculture-based curriculum.

“We are truly excited about the possibilities this space has to offer the students and educators at Hollis Hand Elementary,” said Troup County Extension Coordinator Laura Mirarchi.

“Whether it is utilized as an outdoor classroom for experimental learning or just as a place for teachers and students to get some fresh air while enjoying the scenery, the opportunities are endless. UGA Extension was honored to work on this project, and we are excited about the future.”

Kindergarten students planted zinnias, squash and watermelon as part of a lesson provided by Mirarchi, and PTO volunteers will take care of them over the summer. During this time, the plants will mature and will be ready for harvesting when school starts back in the fall.

Landscape Supply of LaGrange donated the dirt in the raised beds, and Lees Crossing Feed and Seed supplied the nitrogen needed to amend the soil.