Fifth grader sows seeds for new garden club at elementary school in Cary

Students at Deer Park Elementary School in Cary start planting seeds for the garden club. (Photo provided by Laura Whyte )
Courtesy of Laura Whyte

Casey Proctor, a fifth grader at Deer Path Elementary School in Cary, noticed trash on the ground at the school playground and wanted to do something for the environment.

Her idea blossomed into a garden club that will plant flowers, herbs and vegetables at the school this spring.

“I want to help people who need food and help kids get to meet kids they wouldn’t have met,” she said.

Three weeks ago, Casey presented the idea to start the garden club with another student, and the club has since grown to 50 students and has received $2,600 in funding.

“It has taken off like we would have never believed,” Deer Path Principal Thom Gippert said.

Students already have planted some seeds in milk jugs, such as thyme, cilantro, broccoli, cucumbers, bell peppers and – Casey’s favorite – zucchini. The club plans on building out the eight garden beds in April and planting more seeds in May, Deer Path speech language pathologist Laura Whyte said.

In addition, the club plans to plant native flowers and plants to create a butterfly-friendly space.

Whyte said she hopes the kids will develop a sense of community and interact with kids in other grades they normally wouldn’t.

If the gardens are successful, the garden club aims to donate the produce to Deer Path families in need and to the Cary-Grove Food Pantry, Whyte said.

Deer Path serves about 500 kids from first through fifth grades, about 40% of whom are eligible for a free or reduced lunch.

The club got a strong start thanks to a $1,600 donation from Living Grace Community Church in Cary that covered the costs of the eight garden beds.

The Deer Path PTO donated $1,000 to cover supplies, Whyte said.

The church raised its donation within four hours, Pastor Cary Hughes said. He’s hoping the club will teach kids generosity and teamwork, he said.

“To work with the hands, it gets kids interacting,” he said. “We value creation and responsibility to take care of our world.”

The club still needs other supplies such as soil, water soakers and a fence, Whyte said.

The garden sits in an outdoor alcove in the building, and the group hopes fencing will deter any animals from stealing the growing food, Deer Path resource teacher Kacie Faurot said.

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