Courtney Turner’s fourth grade class at Maryville Elementary has spent most of the past school year planting a fruit and vegetable garden through the support of Keep Georgetown Beautiful, a volunteer organization that educates individuals to take greater personal responsibility for enhancing the city's environment and beautification.

According to Turner, the idea for the project started while the students were studying a plants and animals unit during science class. They ate various fruits and vegetables, pulled out the seeds and then planted the seedlings right after Easter break was over.

“We’ve taken it right from the fruit and vegetable straight to the garden,” said Turner.

Wooden slats surround the perimeter of the garden and are being used as a sponsorship fundraiser with the proceeds used for future up-keep of the project.

“We’re selling the wooden slats to the students for $3,” said Turner. “They can put on a quote, dealing with either gardening or school. The quotes then get burned in, that’s why we call it our wood burn garden.”

Turner said that once all of the slats are sold, they will be recycled so they will always have a revenue source for their garden.

“We plan on doing something artistic with them,” said Turner. “We will pull them out, make some sort of background art and start again with a new class. We will hopefully do this each school year.”

The students collectively said their favorite part of the project was working together and the garden sign, which was donated by a neighbor of Turner.

“I’m very excited," said Cortley Bone. “I like to be outside. It feels good working in the dirt.”

“It makes me feel happy that we actually get to do something with my teacher and our friends,” said Joslyn Stuckey. “Planting this garden is a great experience.”

The sponsor, Keep Georgetown Beautiful, said this has been a very successful partnership between the organization and the school.

“I am thrilled to see our children learn what benefits our environment as well as gain gardening skills at the same time,” said KGB coordinator Cindy Thompson. “It is important to start emphasizing taking care of the environment and the participating children and teachers at Maryville School have certainly done a service towards doing so.”

KGB board member Sandy Tomlinson volunteered to lead an educational project for the group and approached Maryville Elementary to see if they were interested in participating.

“The committee is always looking for projects to sponsor,” said Tomlinson. “We don’t have a lot of money but we have a lot of enthusiasm. As a result, we decided we wanted to do something that involved children and the environment. Not only is this a project to make them aware of what they can grow and do, it is a beautification project as well. We want it to be sustaining and continue. Everybody on the committee is very excited about this.”

This is the first year for the garden, but Turner hopes that it will thrive and be a learning experience for her future classes.

“We have a schedule to water it for the summer, with the students also coming by to harvest the plantings,” said Turner. “Once these plants bear as much fruit and vegetables as they can, they will die off and we will start a new garden. We definitely plan on continuing this. This has been our first year and we are very excited.”