It was a day of work for the students at Trafalgar Middle School on Saturday. And, no, it wasn't because of Saturday detention.
They were helping to shovel mulch, drive in posts and really got down and dirty as the school kicked off its garden project, a 22,000-square-foot garden where countless vegetables will be grown.
The goal of this project is to donate food to local soup kitchens and the Harry Chapin Food Bank, and to begin a Trafalgar Middle School Farmers Market with the proceeds being reinvested in the gardens or being donated to charity, according to Al Piotter, who runs the school's Builder's Club and is in charge of this project.
Marolyn Arias, of the Lowe's Heroes, works on a garden project at Trafalgar Middle School on Saturday.
Piotter said this would not have been possible without the students' involvement in the new school Garden Club.
"The students went to the administration last year. We wanted to do a school garden, but it was too late in the year," Piotter said. "They went to our new principal Michael Galbreath, and he said go for it."
According to Galbreath, this isn't going to be a one-and-done deal. They are in it for the long haul.
"This is going to be a long-term project and we want to continue it for a long time to come and we're glad the community is getting involved," Galbreath said.
Several businesses and organizations, including the Kiwanis and Cape Coral Elks, assisted. Another main contributor was the Lowe's Heroes project, which had roughly 40 people doing the heavy lifting.
Getting Lowe's Heroes involvement was especially important, since they only take on one project every year out of many who submit requests. But with the help of the city's two stores and their donating $2,400 toward the cost and the free labor, it got off the ground.
"We get a lot out of it every year. We pick an organization every year and we help them out," said Donna Crutchley, Lowe's Heroes organizer.
In one of the classrooms, teachers learned permaculture (worm casting) with the help of Rachel Singletary.
Singletary and her fellow teachers put a mixture of shredded paper and soil in a box. In about months the paper will be gone and turned into castings, commonly known as "worm poop."
Kids and adults took part in the class, getting to see the castings for themselves and learning what they do and how to grow worms for the castings.
"We use earthworms to create fertilizer and recreate a soil web world, which ends up a wonderful recreation of Mother Nature," Singletary said. "We use this instead of common fertilizer because worms eat garbage."
Students learned soil preparation, planting, teamwork, giving back to the community, and parent involvement.
Haley Gamez, an eighth-grader who helped spearhead the project on the student side, said she never expected something this big.
"It makes me feel happy and proud for our whole club and the school," Gamez said. "It makes me feel good we can give back to the community."