WINCHESTER — Natalie and Hannah Regan made sure worms, roly-polies, caterpillars and other bugs would find a new home, while other volunteers spent Monday morning digging up the grass at Winchester Elementary School to make room for an outdoor garden classroom.
After volunteers dug up grass, they created planter boxes and vertical herb gardens to start the garden.
The event drew about 20 children and twice that many adults.
“I just wanted to help things grow and help the school like I always do,” said Winchester Elementary first grader Jaxon Woodruff.
Organizer Halie Cousineau is an AmeriCorps member serving as the school garden coordinator in Roseburg through the Oregon State University Extension Service and Blue Zones Project-Umpqua. She was able to get all of the supplies donated by local businesses and community members.
“Community support has been really cool,” Cousineau said.
Cousineau teaches at Winchester on Fridays and hopes to start an after-school gardening program at the school as well. She already runs after-school programs at Green and Fir Grove Elementary Schools, and several students involved in those programs helped build the new garden at Winchester.
“I really like gardening,” Fir Grove fourth grader Thalia Alcock said, while helping to remove sod. “I like seeing what the plant looks like after you plant it.”
Glide Elementary School first grader Addison Hatfield also lent a helping hand on Monday. Addison helps out at the school garden at her school and said her favorite part of gardening was “when you help, they give you food to eat,” adding that colorful carrots are her favorite garden snack.
Cousineau said she wanted the new garden to serve as a spotlight classroom and that it would be a space where kids feel comfortable.
“The hands-on is great, the work physically is great,” said Angela Bashford, Winchester Elementary’s booster club president.
There will be a follow-up event on Feb. 15 with presentations from master gardeners, rock painting sessions and other classes through Oregon State University Extension Service to educate the students, their parents and the Winchester community, according to Cousineau.