SDES Garden Club Growing in Popularity

What's "Going and Growing" On in the SDES Garden?
Posted on 10/03/2023
Garden Club at South Douglas Elementary School is thriving and has the growing results to prove it. According to School Garden Director Natalie Murray, these clubs meet after school twice a month. The K-2nd Garden Club has 65 student participants, and the 3-5th Grade Garden Club also has 65 student participants. “It is a very popular club,” Murray said. “The students each get their own t-shirt and feel excited about being a part of what we have ‘going and growing’ on in the school garden.”

The SDES Garden Club exists to teach students where their food comes from, how to grow food on their own, how to care for plants, how to create and take care of natural habitats, empathy for the environment, nutrition, health and wellness for all, and that all living creatures need each other to continue to survive and thrive. 

“Because SDES is a STEM-certified (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) school, we try to add as much STEM into the Garden Club lessons as well,” Murray added. "We talk about soil health and amending the soil with compost and natural fertilizers. We plant seasonal vegetables and we are also expanding our perennial pollinator plants. We want to be a certified pollinator habitat -- especially for the endangered Monarch butterfly,” Murray explained. "We will be planting milkweed soon -- the host plant for the Monarch butterfly.”

This is Murray’s first year teaching at SDES, but not her first school garden. She was at Mirror Lake Elementary for the past 15 years and the School Garden Director there. She has been on the Douglas County Farm Bureau Board as the Educational Outreach Chairperson for the past three years. 

Murray has developed two different programs for the schools in Douglas County through the Farm Bureau. One is the mini-grant program where schools can apply for $500 to use for the startup of a garden or an agriculture-related project. South Douglas Elementary was actually the recipient of a DCFB Mini Grant three years ago. 

“I even had the privilege of delivering the check to the school and the teachers that had applied, Murray said. “Little did I know that I would eventually be working there and actually become the School Garden Director. It's interesting how the path of life twists and turns sometimes.”
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