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2017 Challenge Runner Up

Sterling Montessori Academy and Charter School
Sterling Community Garden
Morrisville, North Carolina


During the fall and spring season in the Sterling Community Garden, elementary students from seven classrooms grow organic vegetables and companion herbs in seven 4 foot by 8 foot raised beds, as part of an outdoor classroom and service learning project.

The season begins with a garden workday to prepare the beds, in-class introductions to plants and seeds, and discussions of what plants need to thrive (soil, sun, water, weather, beneficial insects and plants), and how eating a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables every day helps maintain healthy brains and bodies.  We also discuss the fact that some families have limited access to fresh produce, and agree to donate most of our harvest to organizations that fight food insecurity in local communities.

Throughout the season, gardening activities include sowing seeds, planting plants, watering, thinning, hand weeding and insecticide-free pest management, as needed.

At harvest times we celebrate by sampling right off the vine, making beet-spinach smoothies in class, and/or packing and delivering most of the produce to our local food heroes, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS) in Raleigh, NC.

Last year we donated over $1,000 worth of organic beet, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, chard, collard, kale, lettuce, spinach and turnip greens to the IFFS's Camden Street Learning Garden and "Plant-A-Row For Hunger" drop-off site (at Logan's Trading Company) where it is forwarded to identified families in need.


Each season in the STERLING COMMUNITY GARDEN teachers and parents work together to help students of participating classrooms with the following steps...


Start of fall season workday to prepare the community garden, including cleaning and topping o raised beds with organic soil and weeding grass and spreading mulch on the access areas.
Garden parent introducing students to seed packets, discussing what plants need to thrive, and explaining next activities in the garden.
Students planting collard in their classroom’s bed.


Proud students at harvest time
STERLING COMMUNITY GARDEN students celebrate their harvest by eating it, and donating to organizations fighting food insecurity in local communities.


Students Making Smoothies
Greens ready to be delivered to IFFS
Happy recipients at the Camden Street Learning Garden
Proud students at harvest time.