Pellissippi State to dedicate Pond Gap Elementary community garden

Pond-Gap-Garden-Group

Pellissippi State Community College’s Service-Learning Program invites community members, students, families and volunteers to celebrate the conversion of lawn to garden plot at a ceremony at the Pond Gap Elementary School.

The community garden ceremony takes place 3-4 p.m. Monday, May 12, marking the official dedication of the Pellissippi State Edible Schoolyards Project launched last fall. The garden is an outreach project of the college’s Service-Learning program, in which students pair community service with classroom learning.

Through the community garden, students at Pond Gap have worked with Pellissippi State students and volunteers to learn about food insecurity, food access, and food production.

“The garden has been a great educational opportunity to the children here,” said Matt Callo, project manager of the garden and an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. “Even at a young age, their interest in the garden is immediate. I think it distills an interest in the field of agriculture—it’s awesome to see the initiatives they take.”

The dedication ceremony will include remarks from Tim Burchett, Knox County mayor; Madeline Rogero, Knoxville mayor; Jim McIntyre, Knox County Schools superintendent; L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president; and others.

“We are very proud of all we have accomplished in this inaugural year of the Pond Gap community garden,” said Annie Gray, English professor and Service-Learning coordinator.

“By partnering with the University of Tennessee University-Assisted Community Schools Program at Pond Gap Elementary and local businesses in the creation and support of a sustainable community garden project, the Service-Learning program is promoting urban agriculture education in the Pond Gap area.

“We hope it will be part of an economic stimulus effort rooted in the individual and communal sharing of resources.”

Through “edible curricula”–based school programming, community workshops, and Service-Learning projects, the Pond Gap community garden has served as a community demonstration space for fostering the skills needed to grow easily accessible and affordable produce for healthy lifestyles. Community participants have had the opportunity to hone their gardening skills, make new friends and even explored ways of making a viable career out of growing food.

For more information about Service-Learning at Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/service-learning or call (865) 694-6400.