Spring blooms at East Middle School

East Middle School students now have a garden to call their own, thanks to a grant program from Tractor Supply Company. EMS math teacher Bo Smith, who heads up the garden project, said former EMS student Grace Woodard brought the idea of a school garden to him in February. The garden is home to eight different vegetables, according to Smith.

The students at East Middle School are testing out their green thumbs thanks to a garden gift from Tractor Supply Company.

According to EMS math teacher Bo Smith, the idea came from a former East student who works at the agricultural supply store.

“During a trip to [Tractor Supply] in February, I was in a conversation with a former student at East Middle School, and she asked if we might be interested in starting a garden project at school,” Smith said. “The former student was Grace Woodard, a TSC employee and a recent graduate of Tennessee Tech majoring in soil conservation. She explained how the grant from TSC worked and what would be expected of me and our students.”

The grant in question is one Tractor Supply uses with schools across the country in order to provide “hands-on learning experiences,” according to a press release from the company.

Tractor Supply provided East with a garden “starter kit,” complete with seeds, small plants, soil, fertilizers and other supplies to assist in the establishment of the garden.

According to Tractor Supply press officials, the company endeavors to provide numerous schools and students with hands-on learning experiences. It is “at the forefront of the TSC mission,” they said.

For its part, the local Tractor Supply store was happy to help with the East garden project.

“The school garden program provides kids with an opportunity to use their hands and minds in a way that’s not typically available in a traditional classroom setting,” said Tullahoma Store Manager Rosalyn Grammer. “We are excited to educate students about the origin of their food while encouraging them to continue exploring how the world around them works.”

Smith, too, is excited to bring the hands-on approach to learning to the students at East.

“As a classroom teacher, the opportunity to do hands-on activities involving soil sampling, pH levels, plant rotation, geometry and germinating seeds inside the classroom was an interesting proposition,” Smith said.

The garden, which is located in a small area on the East campus, measures at 12 feet by 90 feet and will be the home of several vegetables that students will be responsible for cultivating.

The vegetables that will be grown, according to Smith, are beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, lettuce, onions and radishes. Smith said his hope is that he and the students will be able to harvest some of those vegetables before the end of the school year.

While the garden kit was delivered earlier this year, the heavy rains in February and March delayed the planting of the seedlings until the middle of April, according to Smith.

“On transplant day … boards had to be used to cross parts of the garden due to all the excess rain,” he said.

Despite the muddy area, all transplants were performed successfully.

Smith thanked Woodard, Tractor Supply and his school administrators for their support in the garden project.

“Students participated and learned many important skills with this hands-on project,” he said. “We hope that the school garden becomes an annual activity.”

Erin McCullough may be reached at emccullough@tullahomanews.com.