Menchville’s Secret Garden

Clancy is barely visible behind one of the school cabbages.

Supreet Singh, Staff Writer

While strolling through the hallways of Menchville High School, you may have noticed through the windows some students diligently tending to the plants in the outdoor courtyard. What you might not have known is that these students are learning valuable gardening skills, gaining extra credit, as well and making a difference in the community.

The garden was started three years ago by Patricia Clancy, Menchville’s ceramics teacher, because she had fifteen extra tomato and bell pepper plants she wanted to plant. Menchville’s outdoor courtyard provided her with just the space she needed, and eventually it grew into what it is today.  In 2016, Clancy received a Hero Grant from Lowes, an annual grant that provides funding for community projects. Lowes provided the wood and the topsoil to create the raised garden beds as well as the service of some of their employees to construct the beds. Lowes also provided important supplies such as sprinklers and leaf blowers. Now students can work outside in the garden to learn about plant tending and earn extra credit. Freshman Laura Bueter said of the garden, “It’s good because it gives an opportunity for students who may have struggled on a specific assignment to pull their grades up.”

Clancy loves that the students are involved because she believes “It teaches kids how to plant and grow. I think learning how to plant and grow things changes your life.” Clancy’s own love of gardening comes from years of having to work in her grandfather’s garden- “At first I hated it, but soon grew to love it.”

Not only does the garden help struggling students, it also helps hungry community members. The garden’s healthy products are donated to the Peninsula Food Bank when harvested. This winter, the garden’s winter harvest provided 300 lbs of collards, broccoli, kale, and cabbage, and Clancy hopes to provide 600 lbs of tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, bell peppers, and strawberries this coming summer. Clancy strongly believes in the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. “It’s so much healthier because canned foods have all those preservatives and salt.”

Menchville’s art students, under the guidance of Clancy, are using their extra credit opportunity for the good of the Food Bank and the community at large- all while making Menchville’s outdoor courtyard just a bit prettier.