David Plowden and Leo Loftus grade 2, getting right to work using the distance gardening kits provided by the Aquidneck Community Table.

by Marcin Rembisz, Newport Public Schools

Covid-19 and distance learning hit just as the Pell Community Gardens were about to break ground at the Claiborne Pell School. The Pell teachers had lined up Tuesday classes from late March till June for 10 classes in gardening, including indoor lessons for rainy days. Educators were about to commission new raised beds at the south end of the garden, and orders for new curriculum materials from Donors Choose had arrived and were being readied for distribution.

Then distance learning and Covid-19 hit. The Pell Community Garden community partners, the “garden ladies” from Aquidneck Community Table, reached out to Pell educators to see what could be done to help the students during distance learning. The master gardeners were worried about what they could do. Although the staff had been furloughed, there were still concerns about the students they had bonded with in the fall. So the group got together to determine what did they need to keep the project moving forward?

Working with Bevan Lindsey, Executive Director of the Aquidneck Community Table, Pell first grade teacher Aaron Sherman sat down and created a distance gardening plan. The plan included one team that would use social distancing to plant and bring the gardens to life, so when school returns, the garden will be there growing and thriving and waiting for the Pell students. The second team of volunteers from the Aquidneck Community Table created home gardening kits for 100 of our little ones from grades 1-2 to keep their green thumbs thriving at home. These distance gardening kits were delivered to the students by staff at Pell and volunteers this past week. These kits will allow our youngest gardeners a chance to keep up with their emerging green thumbs and support their farm-to-table learning while they are at home this summer. While the “garden ladies” are sad to miss a whole season in the garden with the Pell students, Mr. Sherman and his team are excited for the future, knowing that the “garden ladies” will return and the Pell students will come back stronger in their garden experiences while enjoying their own home growing adventures this summer due to this amazing organization and women that are working with Mr. Sherman. Go Garden Ladies!

If anyone is interested in volunteering with the Pell Community Garden they should contact Bevan Lindsey at bevan@aquidneckcommunitytable.org or by phone at (401) 256-6627. 

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