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The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

Environmental Knights plan community garden

Organizers hope project will fight erosion, encourage people to take break from technology and go outside
Maggie Mass
President and Vice-President of the McCallum Enviromental Knights club, Hazel Johnson and Ivy Christie, talk plans for the courtyard where their passion project Community garden will go.

The goal of the Environmental Knights club has always been to encourage the student body of McCallum to reflect on its environmental practices. The club has spent hours organizing trash pickups and an entire Green Week at school to help achieve this mission. The club wishes to make a lasting impact on the environment at McCallum, and its latest sustainable endeavor is coming to life after months of planning.

The idea for a community garden stemmed from the mind of junior Hazel Johnson. Johnson strived to not only solve the campus’s erosion problems but also encourage the community to get outside.

“Our whole mission with the Environmental Knights is environmental stuff generally, but on our campus specifically,” Johnson said. “We wanted to do something that created a lasting impact.”

The final product will include a variety of native plants and perennials. Johnson hopes these hearty plants will return year after year to ensure a lasting impact on the environment at McCallum.

The club plans to include placards next to each plant to explain its position in the garden and encourage students to both learn from and enjoy the beauty of the garden.

“One of our goals with the project is to get people to know more about native plants,” Johnson said. “We hope the placards will help the whole community get more involved.”

Blueprints for the garden, organized by different plant necessities. Drawn originally by Hazel Johnson (Zvi Witchel).

Junior and club vice president Ivy Christie hopes the garden will have the additional benefit of acting as a relief from technology for students. 

“At least right now, our education relies a lot on electronics and online learning,” Christie said. “Being able to remove yourself [from technology] is extremely important for everyone’s mental health, especially as school gets more stressful.” 

Although the project was set to start in the fall of 2023, the club is waiting to hear back from the grants they applied for to fund the project. Once the project is funded, the club will start building and planting the garden, hopefully this spring.

Our education relies a lot on electronics and online learning. Being able to remove yourself [from technology] is extremely important for everyone’s mental health.

— Environmental Knights Vice President Ivy Christie

“Now, we just have to wait until the next planting season,” Johnson said.

In the meantime, the club will focus on nurturing the campus and ensuring a healthy environment for a garden. According to Johnson, maintenance is important to keep a garden like this one functioning and beautiful. Additionally, she said, keeping a clean campus is vital to ensure a successful, thriving community garden, which is why getting involved in campus cleanups will provide a flourishing environment for all of McCallum.

The Environmental Knights have many allies amongst other McCallum clubs. Bird Club and Angling Club, for example, have been extremely helpful in the process of starting the community garden so far. 

As part of the leadership team for the garden, junior and  Angling Club President Fin Kirsch was involved in trying to secure the grants, as well as a few community cleanups on which the two clubs collaborated.

“[The garden is] a really good idea,” said Kirsch “I think it brings a lot of beauty back to the campus, which we definitely need.”

The garden project is a lot more to take on than the usual cleanups that the Angling Club usually partners helps the Environment Knights complete. Kirsch believes that the campus cleanups are a great way for others to get involved in campus conservation.

“It helps to bring life back to the campus,” Kirsch said. “It’s a great volunteer opportunity.”

I think it [the garden] brings a lot of beauty back to the campus, which we definitely need.

— junior Fin Kirsch

The garden is set to be located in the English hall courtyard, giving faculty like social studies teacher Ashley Friedman a great view of the garden.

“I’m very excited,” Friedman said. “I think it will be a good addition to the courtyard.”

Johnson is confident that the garden, once complete, will unify the campus. 

“I just hope that people interact with it a lot and that it becomes a spot that people would like to be around,” Johnson said.

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    PiperMar 28, 2024 at 12:16 pm

    I think it is very awesome that they are planning to do this for the community. It will help out a lot of people and make the community seem more inviting. I also love how you wrote this and how you worded everything.