Let's Grow a Garden
OBE is in its second year of collecting organic waste, also known as the Composting Program, in Horry County Schools and has made considerable efforts to improve the carbon footprint of the school as well as increasing the environmental literacy of its students. Over 500 lbs. of organic material is collected in the cafeteria daily and the students actively participate in the separation of landfill trash, commingled recycling, and compostable material. Students are able to interact with their waste on a daily basis and learn how organic materials decompose to create compost. This compost can be used to grow plants and OBE sees opportunities to advance the cafeteria composting program by allowing students to use the compost to grow plants in gardens.
OBE has created a small outdoor learning committee to further develop outdoor educational spaces and integrate new, outdoor programs into the curriculum with activity based outdoor learning. This committee is currently lead by OBE teacher Elizabeth Foster and Cafeteria Manager Kerry Rabon. Mrs. Foster and Ms. Rabon have successful and passionately implemented the Composting Program at OBE. Ms. Rabon, formerly of River Oaks Elementary (the original ‘green’ school) carries vast information to help carry out our plan. Other members include Marianne Eaton (kinder teacher), Wayne Hickey (community member & professional gardener, husband of Candy Hickey; support staff) Kathy Rummel (kinder Aide), Pam Mulcahy (assistant principal), Trisha Gibson-Grossmon (support staff), Christina Anderson (library aide) and Vicki Coyle (CD teacher). In addition to these folks who are volunteering their time to OBE, we have multiple people who will donate tools and knowledge of gardening. The garden consortium commits to ensuring preservation of our learning garden. In regards to teacher turn over, OBE is not a school which typically experiences a lot of teacher turnover. Most of OBE’s volunteers worked at this site for many years and do not plan on leaving. Fortunately, our administration has committed to ensuring the maintenance of our gardens barring our committee should fall short. The OBE PTO has also committed to supporting our vision by financing the Clemson Extension Gardening class for Elizabeth Foster and Kerry Rabon to attend. Each raised bed will correspond to a particular grade and will be the responsibility of all classes within the grade to provide general upkeep of the bed and maintain the health of the plants
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Over the past decade teachers have noticed a growth in the number of school gardens ‘sprouting’ all over Horry County Schools (with the help of our Smart Recycling program). SMART Recycling program supports schools by providing services for our students to separate waste streams 3 different ways; landfill waste, commingle waste, and organic waste, throughout our school and cafeteria. So, it makes sense Ocean Bay Elementary School students should do the same. Academically, there is mounting evidence that students who garden at school achieve higher on standardized tests. More importantly, emotional and social needs are met through gardening because it offers a sense of therapy while tending to and spending time in a garden. Environmentally, gardening is awesome. Students make connections to our Earth and how to take care of her so she can take care of our children and our children’s children. Right now, Garden At The Bay is growing several types of lettuce and English Peas (all GMO free). Clemson University, through an extension program, provides Master Gardener Certificates for educators. Clemson also offers a complete raised bed gardening kit which includes transplants for a year and a worm factory to make compost onsite. In addition, Clemson University also provided our school with STEM lessons that directly correlate to South Carolina standards Within the next few weeks we will harvest those crops and plant herbs, flowers, gourds, radishes, and popcorn. All of which, would not be possible, had we not have the amazing support of you and Donor's Choose. Our gardens may be small, but the impact will last a lifetime!