Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Athens Students Help Through Gardening

By SHANNON FITZPATRICK, Georgia Bulletin Intern | Published July 16, 2009

Two years ago, biology students at Monsignor Donovan High School created a garden behind their classroom. Now they garden to help others.

After finding some success in growing vegetables, the students established the Farmer’s Market Club at the school as a means of dealing with the surplus of food.

After establishing good connections with the Athens Farmer’s Market and the art club PLACE, students began to share what they had produced with the community.

“Our art teacher, Meredith Bridges, asked to join in and sell student artwork in our booth too, so we joined forces. This was a great move since when the second garden didn’t do as well as the first, so we had artwork and craft work to sell to our community,” said Suzanne Montgomery, club moderator.

This club works to promote organic gardening for a cause. With the help of faculty administrators, including teacher organizer Sandra Reinhart, students sell organically grown produce and their own crafts and artwork. All students and teachers willing to participate are welcome, and the club does not hold strict rules on how to participate. Students work when they can after school during the school year—the summer season is very relaxed.

“Students tend to help in working the garden. Some come during their summer break to work the booth,” said Montgomery.

Most of their goods are sold at the Bishop Park Farmer’s Market. The market’s season runs from May to November, staying open from 8 a.m. to 12 noon daily.

The students chose to send the proceeds from their sales to the Bethlehem Ministry’s Haiti Project. Students were touched by their experiences on a mission trip to Haiti.

Montgomery said, “It was the most beautiful and fulfilling experience I’ve ever had. My son and I decided to sponsor a child each. When we took that step I started thinking about how easy it would be to raise more money to sponsor the students.”

She added, “When we were there, Pere Bruno mentioned that many students had lost their sponsorships due to the economic situation being experienced in the U.S. At that point I decided to commit our club to helping the kids in Haiti get an education, food and a school uniform.”

It costs $200 for a year of education, meals and a uniform. All children sponsored receive food, basic healthcare and education from preschool to sixth grade. With the help of the proceeds from the Farmer’s Market Club, the sponsored school in Haiti is also able to help the surrounding community because of its running water, solar power and gas stoves.

The goal of the club is to continue to sponsor new children with every $200 raised by the students. So far, they have been able to sponsor one child and are about to sponsor their second. The members of the club feel very grateful for the experience of helping other children with their efforts in the garden.

Montgomery said, “What a wonderful feeling to know one more child can stay at the school for another year because of our school and our surrounding caring community.”