Davian Calderon, 9, had “fluffed” and “fortified” dirt for an hour, but his favorite part of a gardening project was the actual planting of tomato plants.
Calderon and his sister, Isys, 7, joined other Metropolitan Ministries Partnership School students, YMCA Teen Achievers and members of the Soroptimists recently to re-establish vegetable and herb gardens at the school.
They spent March 22 pulling out old plants, turning the soil and adding fertilizers. They also helped rebuild a hanging hydroponic garden that was not in use.
Carmine Melton, a Soroptimist member for about a year and half, proposed and oversaw the project.
She had learned about the Teen Achievers project, where high school teens who need extra help receive tutoring, mentoring and life skills education at some YMCAs, including the Central City one.
Melton, a pharmaceutical sales representative, said she thought the gardening project would fit with their program because YMCA teens would work with the elementary school, next to the YMCA, for upkeep of the garden. She said the project emphasis responsibility, assisting others and mentoring as well as writing skills as the students had to keep journals of their participation.
“It is like planting seeds in your mental journal, too,” Melton said.
Wayne Johnson, who oversees the Teen Achievers project, said about 125 students come to the Central City YMCA for the program, from which he selected some teen girls to participate in the gardening.
“This is such a good project because they can see so many great, seasoned role models,” Johnson said.
In addition to herbs and tomatoes the students planned corn, climbing beans, squash and watermelons. The food will be given to those in need.
The materials, plants and tools needed were supplied by the Soroptimists at a cost of about $300. The members raise funds through various projects including plant booths at University of South Florida Botanical Gardens Plant Festival. The next festival is April 12 to 13.
Daphne Fourqurean is principal of the school of approximately 80 students who live at Metropolitan Ministries or have transitioned from its on-site housing. She praised the Soroptimist volunteers for the project.
“For them to come and do this, they are giving from their hearts. This is about their time, resources and their know-how.”