E.A.T.S. (Evergreen Agricultural Testing Site) Wrangell School Garden was established at its current location in 1998 by about nine volunteer teachers* who had joined together to participate in a Master Gardener class through the University of Alaska with the goal of bringing gardening activities to the students of Wrangell Schools. Prior to 1998, for about 5-6 years, gardening activities were organized in classrooms and at a local outdoor home garden space that students would take field trips to. Six raised garden beds were built through sponsorship by local organizations and businesses. Wrangell Public School District provided the space for the E.A.T.S. Wrangell School Garden to grow, and moved an unused greenhouse from the Stikine Middle School to the Evergreen Elementary site. A grant was written by the volunteer teachers and awarded by NGA (National Gardening Association). This Youth Garden Grant provided supplies, equipment, and teaching resources for classrooms. Each year, the E.A.T.S. Wrangell School Garden has been planted in the Spring and harvested in the Fall on a very low level, producing enough to make dishes in the classroom and for Open House/Other Events like Potato Soup, Cole Slaw, Potato Bread, and Pumpkin Cookies to name a few.
Over the course of many years, the E.A.T.S. Wrangell School Garden has been a source of joy, wonder, nature, and outdoor learning to the students of Evergreen Elementary School. Community volunteers, donations and more small grants have provided more assistance, planting supplies, growlabs, and resources to the gardening program. Countless volunteer hours have been put into gardening with kids. The results have been wonderful with great memories made, amazing learning experiences provided, annual gardens harvested, and food enjoyed!
During the 2014-15 School Year, the garden started taking on a whole new look and purpose. With a newly formed volunteer E.A.T.S. Garden Committee working with representatives from each school building, Food Service, Kids' Summer Gardening, and the community, needed steps were taken to revive and renovate the garden space and area. The Evergreen Elementary School Student Council was instrumental in allocating a shift of BoxTops funds to help the school garden, with hopes of funding a new greenhouse in the future. In the meantime, students continued to start plants in their classrooms in the Spring, plant before school is out for Summer, and harvest in the Fall, Kids' Summer Gardening took charge of taking care of the school garden during the Summer months. The garden area was also fenced in; a huge improvement both for safety and for keeping critters out. Good things continued to happen!
An exciting opportunity arose during the 2017-2018 School Year. Americorps sent a 10 person team to Wrangell and the E.A.T.S. Wrangell School Garden was invited to get some jobs on their project list. This included assisting with completing bed building, moving rock and soil, and laying a brick path using bricks from the Wrangell High School back courtyard area that was torn down. We are all about the recycle and reuse any chance that we get! Thanks to the donations of Terri and Jack Pino, F/V Pacific Sea/Frank Warfel, Jr., Wrangell Teachers' Association, Dan Rohr, Breakaway Adventures, Frank and Pat Warfel, and the E.A.T.S. Wrangell School Garden Committee, wood was purchased from a local mill to build the new beds to replace the beds sponsored in 1998. Americorps, Dan Rohr/Kim Wickman, and the E.A.T.S. Wrangell School Garden Committee were instrumental in assisting with the bed renovation, as well as cleaning up and organizing the garden area with students. These were giant improvements that will have lasting impact!
In 2020, the greenhouse was completed for use thanks to the work of Josh Blatchley and Jason Haslip, following the structual work of WHS Woodshop Students. We've been able to start growing in the greenhouse, have all the new garden beds full of fresh soil, seaweed, and other good soil nutrients. We also were excited to become the proud new owners of an indoor tower garden thanks to a grant from our local Wrangell Cooperative Association! We continue to make great strides in learning gardening techniques, especially thanks to "Grandma J" (Jeannette Anderson) who spent countless hours helping to keep our garden projects moving along and teaching us all that she knows. We will be forever grateful for her service and her time!
Since 2020, we have received grant funding through Wrangell Public School District to continue these efforts by adding an indoor gardening area and supplies to the EES STEM Lab, as well as replenish and add greenhouse growing supplies like pots, soil, and many other items. We've had many more community hands involved in assisting with larger jobs that are more difficult for little hands, as well as so much wonderful help from all of the EES Students. During the Summer of 2021, Jenn Miller met with small groups of students to keep the garden beds, greenhouse plants, and area weeded, watered, and worked on. During Fall, we put the outdoor garden beds and greenhouse to sleep for Winter and move our activities indoors that include our Tower Garden, Worm Farm, and indoor grow labs.
E.A.T.S. Wrangell School Garden hosts a seed sale in early Spring and an ongoing houseplant sale set up in the EES Office. There is also an Annual Spring Plant Sale.
We love our school garden and getting our students out digging in that soil and growing indoors!
More helpers for the garden and activies are always needed. Contact us and let's get growing together!
If you have any questions or would like to get involved with the E.A.T.S. Garden Committee, please contact Jenn Miller at 874-2321, ext. 243.
*Thank you to our Volunteer Teachers who originally pioneered this great effort: Vickie Buness-Taylor, Jenifer Cameron, Peggy Lee, Jenn Miller, Patty Gilbert, Michele Galla and more!