Roosevelt community garden well underway

Roosevelt High School has begun construction of a new community garden, which will be available to the students, faculty members and communities around the school.

With the leadership of the TR science club helping to facilitate the planning and building of the community garden, Principal Melvin Echard and science teacher Misty Belmontez led the charge to raise a total of $50,000. This was possible thanks to donations from contractor services and materials, grants, monetary donations, and District seed funding.

Over the last two weekends, more than fifty students representing NHS (National Honor Society), AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), PALS (Peer Assistance, Leadership, and Service), JROTC, ETA (Engineering & Technologies Academy), DATA (Design & Technology Academy), SPARK, Art Club, Science Club and more, came together to work on the garden. The students built 25 raised beds, spread and leveled 70-plus cubic yards of soil, in addition to gaining a variety of hands-on, real world experiences. To help student volunteers, adult community members including Marksmen General Contractors, Starbucks, UTSA, the Windcrest Garden Club, Roosevelt staff and spouses came to participate.

“I heard there was a need to help for a garden,” said senior Carlos Nieto. “Why not do something good for the school as well as for the community? It's a great way for people to meet and get along by working together.”

The idea of having a school-based garden took several attempts that spanned the last six years. Reinforcing and modeling to students to be tenacious and not give up on their goals regardless of obstacles.

“The premise of the garden originally came about because I saw gardens being used on other campuses and when I became a biology teacher I saw how some of my students did not realize that onions grew in the ground,” said Belmontez.

Belmontez recruited architecture teacher, Katy Philbrick, and her students to help bring the vision of a community garden to life and gain the approval of Principal Echard.

The garden will mirror the hours of the school based on Molly Pruitt Public Library. Individuals with disabilities will also have the opportunity to come and plant since there will be ramps for wheelchair access and the flowerbeds will be 2 feet high and accessible to their reach. Students will donate their garden produce throughout the year. Classes during school will have the chance to visit the garden and hold their lessons there as well.

Belmontez would love to see Roosevelt use their garden club in the elementary schools to help build gardens there, as well as in middle schools. Further construction and development will continue on March 25, with the installing and leveling of 25-30 wood and brick raised beds. An additional $7,000 is required to purchase and install a decorative fence. For donations, click the following link:

The Ribbon cutting ceremony is set for Earth Day on April 20.

Belmontez hopes to see the garden progress over the years and be a model for what can happen on other urban high school campuses. The garden will build and strengthen bonds with the community and bring additional relevance to the content taught in the classroom.

Article written by: Lizbeth Cuellar, Roosevelt Journalism Student
Photos provided by: Allison Boerger, Roosevelt Journalism Teacher

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Posted on 03/08/2017