CAA breathes life into Miller’s school garden

Through+their+collaboration+during+the+past+three+months%2C+CAA+and+Miller+students+raised+and+installed+garden+beds%2C+removed+weeds+and+fixed+the+drip+irrigation+system.

Emily Pedroza

Through their collaboration during the past three months, CAA and Miller students raised and installed garden beds, removed weeds and fixed the drip irrigation system.

Emily Pedroza, Staffer

Hands gloved and ready to serve both a blossoming garden and school community, Lynbrook Conservation Action Association members and Miller Middle School students gather to foster growth in Miller’s garden every Friday. During COVID-19, the garden became overrun with weeds as students were learning from home and could not tend to its needs. Hoping to resolve the garden crisis and create a more sustainably sourced Food Science class, CAA officers commenced their plan to aid Miller students in reviving the garden. The impact of the garden has since spread far beyond its metal enclosures, bringing fresh produce to Miller’s Food Science classes and influencing campus-wide compost plans.

Miller’s gardening club has spread its roots once again with the return of students on campus. In May 2021, CAA communicated their project to Miller English teacher, Kari Emerson, who manages Miller’s garden revitalization project and founded the Gardening Club. 

“When I found out about CAA, I was excited,” Emerson said. “I had the vision, but knew I would be too overwhelmed with teaching, taking care of my dad and coaching cross country, to even get it started. Their help reminds me that I’m not taking on the project alone.” 

Through their collaboration during the past three months, CAA and Miller students raised and installed garden beds, removed weeds and fixed the drip irrigation system. They will plant seeds from January to February 2023 as spring comes around. Students plan to start with small produce that will grow quickly, like tomatoes and herbs, to supply the Food Science classes. This way, transporting fees, packaging fees and plastic waste could be reduced.

CAA members visit Miller every Friday for an hour after school to tend the garden alongside Gardening Club members. 

“This garden is an ongoing project,”  senior and CAA president Cindy Chou said. “It’s so meaningful because we get to help out our communities and the school that we went to just a few years ago.”

During the 2021-22 school year, Emerson brought her Social Emotional Learning class to the garden to help weed and grow plants during advisory periods. 

“One day I said to my SEL students, ‘Hey, let’s go for a walk,’” Emerson said. “We ended up at the rundown Miller garden, and we started weeding. They started laughing and smiling and just had a great time. Even though we only did it for a little bit, it made me realize the students love it.”

Emerson hopes to promote the garden project once planting begins in February. CAA and Miller’s Gardening Club have been collaborating ideas to harvest sustainably through practices such as using torn up cardboard boxes for mulch. After the garden is well-established, CAA plans to take Lynbrook English teacher David Clark’s advice to add nutrients to the soil, testing different sun exposures and crop rotations. Eventually, CAA hopes to introduce native plants in the garden to both aid and attract local pollinators. 

After they plant seeds, CAA will establish the compost bin system so food waste from the food science class and lunch line can be used to add nutrients to the soil. Through composting food waste and growing fresh produce, CAA aims to teach Miller students and CAA members about sustainable agriculture and its role in helping the environment. 

“It’s important that we set good examples for younger students by making their environment greener,” senior and CAA volunteer Sana Gupta said. 

Along with the project’s focus on supplying sustainable food for classes, Miller’s gardening club members also hope to beautify campus life. Maintaining areas around the five planting beds, dedicating sections for flowers and collaborating with the woodshop classes to build garden benches, students hope to make the garden a charming community space where people can relax and spend their free time. 

“I think the garden is going to be really nice,” Miller sixth-grader and garden club member Lauren Hassur said. “It takes a lot of work, but hopefully it will make a lot of people at Miller happy. It will be a quiet place for people to come and forget about everything else.”