I’d like to thank William Monroe High School Principal Katie Brunelle for allowing the Agriculture teacher Chris Jones to walk his classes over to the Comm-Unity Garden at Grace Episcopal Church on Thursday, Nov. 4. I had asked for help with spreading new hardwood and composted hardwood mulches on the pathways and planting rows in preparation for wintering.
The weather at 8 a.m. when the first class arrived was cloudy and the temperature 32 degrees. It was cold. We grumbled amicably together about having chosen the “coldest day of the year” for this cooperative endeavor. Yet the teenage students went right to work at the task at hand. They exhibited respect to us by their greetings, openness to carry on short conversations and expressions of gratefulness for anything we helped them find or for the homemade snack we served them. My husband Bert and the church’s Junior Warden Jean Byerly were delighted to recognize Youth Development Council grads: Josh, Antonio, Brandon and others.
We watched as Chris set the students to practice what he had taught them about the chemical reasons for the two kinds of mulch they were forking into carts, moving through the garden gate and spreading neatly on the alternate rows. We asked that they remove weeds and dead plants, but not disturb our winter crop of kale. Mr. Jones directed them to top-dress around the kale plants which was gently done. We noticed that he was a wise leader in that he treated his groups with the expectation of applying what he had taught them about the science of food production, necessary soil nutrients, safely using pitchforks and putting tools back in their place.
Not only did the students do the work, but they seemed to appreciate Teaching Assistant Grant McDaniel’s instructions, which were helpful as he directed them to efficient spacing so many could work together without getting in each other’s way. Even his younger brother, Levi, hopped right to his requests and cousin, Landon, told us that Grant was very knowledgeable in knowing what needed to be done and how to get it done.
The atmosphere Mr. Jones has created shows a heart of fondness for his students and high-level expectations for their attitudes and functioning. His active plans for real-life learning experiences that benefit the community not only accomplished a huge task for the Comm-Unity Garden but also encouraged us to see that the future is in good hands. We were blessed.
Barbara Nye, Garden Manager
Grace Episcopal Church Comm-Unity Garden