Coan Middle School breaks ground on edible garden

UPDATE: For more images, visit photo gallery here.

Coan Middle School built on the momentum started last summer with an Edgewood community learning garden with the unveiling of an edible garden in the back of the school’s campus. (See photos of the Edgewood community garden here.) Thanks to a partnership with the Zeist Foundation and the Southeastern Horticultural Society, Coan broke ground on the half-acre garden Thursday afternoon with the help of these and several other partners and officials. Joining in were representatives from the Mayson Avenue Collective, Gas South, Links Inc. and the mayor’s office as well as Atlanta Falcons defensive end (and Coan partner)  Chauncey Davis, Atlanta City Council member Natalyn Archibong, Atlanta Board of Education member Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, SRT-3 Executive Director Dr. Robin Hall and APS Director of Nutrition Administration Dr. Marilyn Hughes.

“The biggest factor in having a garden like this is the community involvement it promotes with the our schools,” said Coan Principal Dr. Tonya Saunders. “The second is how important this is from a nutritional standpoint. We need our students to be able to learn about how to eat properly, especially with the high obesity rate among our children today. With this edible garden, we’ll be able to teach subjects in our health class, in our science class and in our home economics class.”

The gardens have also captured the students’ attention, as community learning garden education coordinator Kyla Zaro-Moore found. “It’s gone from being a curiosity to students taking an active interest in the garden.” She points to a fourth-grader who previously had been struggling in class with both his academics and behavior until he started working in the garden. There would be days when he’d actually get disappointed when Zaro-Moore wasn’t there. “Now I come to the garden, and he’s my shadow,” she says. “I had to give him his own plot in the garden because he’d become so enthusiastic, he needed his own area to work with. And there are other kids who are just too cool for everything but will find time to come out and learn.”

Moore points to the 10-member Green Club of students who are particularly active in the garden. “We’re supposed to meet from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., and they’ll stay till 7 p.m. because they’re so into it.”

The ceremony included performances by the Coan Middle School band and chorus. Students Eric Thayer and Rakiyaa Radford led the guests in the Pledge of Allegiance, while students Khalia Roberts and Roger Murray offered a welcome and the purpose of the occasion. Students Arcacia Pettigrew and Darius Lewis recited garden-friendly poems from classmates. Other principals attended to show their support, including Burgess-Peterson Academy’s Robin Robbins, Whitefoord Elementary’s Patricia Lavant, Toomer Elementary’s Nicole Evans Jones and CSKYWLA’s Melody Morgan.

Also, thanks to Zaro-Moore for providing this video of the first day of work on the garden.

3 thoughts on “Coan Middle School breaks ground on edible garden

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  1. pleas put the awared ceramony picture on google so when we type coan m s we can find the pic. thank you we realy want to see the smartest studentes in coan who got in a principals list —-

  2. Hat’s off to Principal Saunders and the dynamic ieadership that she provides to the Coan family. It is definitely evident that the school istransitioning to an even better place for our children.
    – Parent

  3. Seeing the Coan Middle School Edible Garden project unfold is a testament to strong school leadership and invested community partners! Today’s event sent a clear message to our youth – we care and support their growth! Kudos to The Zeist Foundation for its place based work in the Edgewood Community.

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