East High School Garden Supports Community

East High School Garden Supports Community
Posted on 10/16/2020
Watering East High garden
Written by East High School Social Studies teacher Brian Fisk.

East High School’s proud gardening tradition took a major step forward this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scott Christy (Business Education) and Brian Fisk (Social Studies) took on the leading role of upgrading the existing gardens in anticipation of growing food needs within our community. Over the course of several days, the existing beds were worked up and infused with additional soil and peat moss while the area around the beds saw a layer of barrier cloth laid down and covered in wood chips to complete the restoration of the garden space. The traditional compost bin was also rebuilt and filled with the help of the GBAPS Facilities Department.

The crops chosen this year included: garlic, radishes, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, summer squash, onions, potatoes, and kohlrabi. These crops are relatively low maintenance which was essential over the summer, although the garden was tended weekly for weeding and watering. One day while taking a load to the compost bin, we noticed that a swarm of wild bees had moved into the existing hive!

As the summer progressed, each week fresh produce from the garden was harvested and dropped off at the Garage Pantry, a local effort to feed Green Bay Area Public School families negatively impacted by COVID-19. Recipients were happy to add fresh produce to their diets along with canned goods donated by the East High faculty. Over the course of five weeks, several hundred pounds of food were donated and delivered to those in need. Later in the summer fresh produce was also donated to the Eats for East food pantry where East High social workers and counselors prepared and distributed food backpacks to East High School families in need. When we ended our growing season during the first week of October, our last donation to the East for East food pantry included over 20lbs of fresh carrots!

The end of the growing season was bittersweet, but ended up being much sweeter than expected. While we were sad to see the growing season end, we were excited to tap our beehive and see what the bees had been up to all summer. Joe Brooker (Associate Principal) along with Clarissa Skaletski (East alumnus) donned beekeeper suits and removed the upper portion of the hive. We were pleased and astounded to see how healthy the hive looked, and Mr. Brooker estimated that there were between 80,000 and 100,000 active bees in the colony. The hive yielded twenty four pints of honey that was bottled and sold as a fundraiser for “seed money” for next year’s garden. 

Plans are underway for another successful growing season next summer as we have already planted garlic for next spring. Hope springs eternal with farmers - the seeds we plant now will flourish and prosper when we get to 2021. We are also hoping to expand the garden to include additional raised beds, and maybe even a few fruit trees, to provide even more fresh produce to our East High community in the future.
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