Planet Minerva pitches in with community garden

MINERVA - Minerva Central School and Planet Minerva have teamed up to build a community garden. Borrowing from the MCS mission statement, the two groups "....will prepare students to succeed as responsible citizens in an ever-changing world, in partnership with the community."

Volunteers hope to encourage and support community self-sufficiency through green employment opportunities, hands-on learning experiences and community projects through the opportunity for all to work on something that results in sustainability.

Teaming up to turn a piece of property adjacent to the MCS playground into something special and attractive will take time, but the process is now well underway. Working together, MCS and Planet Minerva, (with help from the town of Minerva) have begun to develop a school garden on a chunk of property that was acquired by the school several years ago.

Currently, Planet Minerva has a community garden located on a corner lot adjacent to the Minerva Town Hall where kids from MCS and the Minerva Youth Program have been very active with planting and harvesting activities this year. This partnership was so successful that MCS has decided to break ground on a garden on school property.

Over the past few weeks, volunteers from Planet Minerva and staff from MCS and town of Minerva have been working to rid the garden property of an exotic invasive plant species that has gained a foothold. The plant, Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) grows quickly and extensively via a root system that is extremely difficult to control. Anti-knotweed workers have cut the stems and piled them on the property with the thought of drying and burning them. Similarly, with the welcome use of a backhoe, knotweed root-infested soil has been placed on tarps on the property with the thought of sifting the roots out of the soil, then drying and burning the roots. This intensive effort is necessary given the ability this plant species has to sprout new plants from small pieces of root and stem.

With volunteer help and plenty of energy, the school garden will be taking shape soon. The hope is that in the spring of next year, kids from MCS will be directly involved in the planting and (later in the summer) harvesting the fruits of their labor. Sustainability is an important part of any true community effort, and this garden will be no exception.

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