My Voice My Community
A Garden Grows in Kensington

Partnerships Converge to Help 5th Graders Create a Community Garden

Brace yourselves for some beautification at B and Allegheny Ave! Elizabeth Kim and Alessandra Villella’s 5th grade students at Stetson Middle School are making it happen—with a little help from their friends.

The class identified pollution in their neighborhood as the topic they wanted to explore with their service-learning project, and when Michelle Feldman from Keep Philadelphia Beautiful came to visit, they got excited about all of the possible ways they could make a difference. But when Patti Dunne and Kathryn Woolf from Fairmount Water Works visited, they learned that gardens do double duty in addressing pollution: not only do they absorb storm water, but they also discourage littering by beautifying the neighborhood.

Could 5th graders create their own community garden at Stetson Middle School, they wondered? Indeed, they can and in fact, Principal Lajara said, “we’ll support you 100%.” Here’s a little something from teacher Elizabeth Kim to get sense of what’s involved:

“Students have worked in designated committees in order to devise a plan for what is needed. For example, our design committee came up with a design and budget for the project, the parent committee created a bilingual survey in order to get parent involvement, the community partners committee wrote a letter that can be sent out to organizations that could donate materials, and finally the research committee presented all the information we have learned along the way. Each committee has presented in front of the administration at our school as a way to persuade and get approval for the community garden, which will be built on school grounds.”

Things got really exciting when Need in Deed’s Program Manager, Sharon Ahram connected with PhillyRising and got the thumbs up for help with materials. And the list of partnerships keeps growing as more and more people get excited about helping students make a real difference in their community. Home Depot got on board with donations from the Garden Center. And Primex donated seeds. South Kensington Community Partners signed on for technical assistance. And folks discovered that discarded tires and bathtubs can be transformed into container gardens.

Watch out, Kensington! The students of Room 542 are here to remind us that, “team work is dream work.” At Need in Deed, we’re excited that we get to be on the team.