For the past 18 years, I have been helping with the Holly Springs Garden Club. People should know what a valuable resource our district has in Holly Springs Elementary School. Besides having the community of parents, volunteers, and teachers working together to improve many aspects of our students’ lives, we have the physical grounds that foster an interest in science that rivals any field trip we have taken.
Our active garden club now has about 30 students that meet after school. Years before STEM and Career Ready Standards, we were problem solving and collaborating with each other. There is a combination of older students working with younger ones in each garden group. We are affiliated with Pickens Garden Club which enables students to win numerous Youth Awards sponsored by the Garden Clubs of South Carolina. At the present we have a Lifetime Certified Schoolyard Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation, Carolina Yard Recognition, and progressing in the Green Steps Program.
Over the years students have created several gardens; a Butterfly Garden, which students designed into north, south, east, west sections; a Vegetable Garden; and a Woodland Rain Garden. For the rain garden, students met with a landscape architect who took their designs and meshed them together to help with storm water runoff. In this garden are planted jonquil bulbs donated from the original Andrew Pickens home place. We collaborate with Clemson Extension Service, native plant specialists, and master gardeners. This collaboration also gave students an opportunity to layout and dig a bioswale to help solve a water drainage problem between the wings of the school.
Volunteers from the Vineyards helped students build bird houses and place them around the school. As a result, many students recognize native plants and birds that frequent our garden. On our last field trip to Table Rock State Park, students were knowledgeable of those birds and plants.
Students have created an environment around the school that enhances both writing and art. In warmer weather, students sit in our colorful gardens, listen to nature, and write. What a wonderful way to reflect on what you learn, read about, and observe! Currently, the art teacher and I are collaborating on how to work in smaller groups so part of 2nd grade can garden while the other part does art with nature.
Volunteers are working on repairing the greenhouse, so students can grow and experiment with planting our own seeds with compost we use after collecting leftover food from lunch. We have a huge storage container for our numerous tools which were acquired with grant money. Many projects are ongoing.
It will be disheartening to dismantle what we have invested in over the years. This scenic environment fosters a love of the outdoors and conservation. Losing Holly Springs and its location is a decision that will be regretted in the future. This is a valuable resource for math, science, and outdoor learning.
Holly Springs Elementary, Second Grade