Seeing a garden grow in rural Sampson County is not unusual, but at Midway Middle school, it is something new. The brainchild of MMS math and science teacher Jason Stehly, MMS students now have their very own garden plots to plant and nurture.
“It makes perfect sense — that this was a way to connect the school with the agricultural heritage of the area,” Stehly said.
“Gardens are one of those great inspirations of art and music,” Stehly said. “Emily Dickinson and Monet would have a much smaller body of work if gardens were excluded.”
This project will offer other academic and life connections as well.
“The science connections are obvious, and we have to use mathematics in the planning,” he said.
Initial financing came by way of a grant from MMS’s recycling efforts. Guidance counselor Misty McLamb and Principal John Goode designated money from these funds to help with plot construction. Jackson Farms of Autryville, owned and operated by state Sen. Brent Jackson and his son Rodney, donated the soil and irrigation hose for the project. They are also donating seed. Many MMS teachers have given supplies as well as egg cartons and plastic containers for starting seeds.
Located on the back of the school next to art teacher Leslie Allen’s classroom, the plots will soon hold vegetable plants and aromatic herbs, particularly rosemary. Stehly also plans to plant some flowers to help the herbs with attracting pollinators and viewers. Allen hopes to use the garden as subject matter for student observation drawings and paintings.
Most of the labor thus far has been provided by the advisory classes of Robin Marley, Robin Oelrich, Ryan Bard, and Stehly. Stehly’s class has even adopted the name “The Shrub Club” to show its pride for the garden.
“I hope to see this become something a wide variety of classes use and treat as their space.” said Stehly.
“Gardens really do something for a person’s soul,” Stehly said, “so I hope that it is something that gives joy and comfort in that way to all who are connected to it.”