School District 91

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Transforming the garden beds at Forest Park Middle School

Hello Team,
What an awesome day....

On Saturday, November 5, 2011, a team of over 40 volunteers gathered on a beautiful fall day to transform the crabgrass patch along the west side of Forest Park Middle School (FPMS) into fifteen 4'x5' raised garden beds. Live Healthy Forest Park, (a partnership formed through the Model Community grant between the Village of Forest Park, School District 91, Forest Park Community Garden, and the Park District) spear headed this event, with the mission of providing easier access to healthy eating, wellness, and sustainability. Gardening will now be incorporated into various forms of curriculum such as science, math, and history within the Middle school. It is great to see the final product and think how it will teach growth, nutrition, and the benefits of sustainable healthy foods within our Middle school students.

The day was directed by our very own 7th grade science teacher, Mrs. Susan Milaskas, who will continue to incorporate the gardens into the school curriculum, along with the Principal Karin Bukowski. Great work was provided by members of the FPMS Garden Club, 7th grade math teacher, Steve Drent , school custodian Bob Bejlovec, and multiples of parents and students. We must also recognize Mrs. Milaskas' husband, Greg, for his on-site "contractor" leadership. The pre-drilling, sawing, and support he provided, along with being our job foreman, was tremendous. Truly he could give Paul Bunion a run for his legacy.

Continued thanks to Mayor Anthony Calderone and Village Administrator Tim Gillian for bringing the Model Community grant to Forest Park, and to School District 91 Administration, Dr. Louis Cavallo and Edward Brophy, for their continued support in the Live Healthy Forest Park mission. Eden DeGenovia and Erin McMillan, both experts in the field of school gardens and edible gardens, co-directed and designed the FPMS school garden. The Village of Forest Park Public Works provided the strength of equipment delivery, tools, and the invaluable aid of the bob-cat to move soil…thank you John Doss, Mike Raimondi, and Rocky Panzani. Ed's Way grocery store donated countless amounts of cardboard to provide "lasagna layering" organic weed cessation and control. A healthy breakfast and lunch was made available to all on site via Starship Subs. All funding was paid through the Model Community grant.

Thank you cannot begin to cover my personal gratitude, as well as gratitude on behalf of the Live Healthy Forest Park team, parents and students of FPMS, and the School Garden Club. It was great working with all of you! The feeling of community built that day has truly planted roots of the Live Healthy Forest Park mission…living a healthier life, and building a healthier community for all by all. Each of you individually offered your care, made a difference, and made an impact that goes far beyond five hours on a Saturday afternoon.

We look forward to spring planting and harvest, and planting overwinter crops. Each bit of dirt moved will be filled with thoughts of the care added to the garden on November 5th. If you missed the build day, and would like to keep working with us, we would be honored. We are building our School District 91 School Wellness Committees and would like your participation. We invite you to be a cornerstone in the Live Healthy Forest Park community.

Please see photos posted here.