By Grace D.

SEM’s courtyard is one of the most iconic and loved places on campus. The courtyard itself is a great place to hang out, eat lunch, or work during the warmer months. The Urban Gardening club has taken the initiative to beautify the space with something we all can enjoy —- a garden. 

The Urban Gardening club’s goal is to create a garden that students, faculty, and other people can use and appreciate. The club hopes to create a garden that can be used at lunch and fill up some of the empty spaces in the courtyard with flowers and plants. Before taking on this project, the club coordinated an Earth Day activity in which every advisory decorated a rock for the garden. 

The initial idea was proposed by Olivia Gilliland ‘23, the president of Urban Garden club this past year. “When school started I went to Ms. Coffey and asked if she would be interested in being an advisor and the rest was history,” she explained. Her inspiration came from her “interest in making urban spaces more sustainable.” With the help of Ms. Coffey, the plan was set in motion. SEM already has the courtyard, which offers a perfect location for a garden to be made. With the help of Grassroots Gardens, a Western New York based organization that aims to help educate the community and provide some helpful assistance to build gardens, the Urban Gardening club applied for a grant to help start the garden. “The grant was for helping schools and communities create gardens either for aesthetic purposes or for growing food or both,” said Ms. Coffey. The program itself will begin next school year. 

“We are starting small this year to focus on planning a space that works for the SEM community in more than one way,” Olivia explained. “I think it would be super cool to plant veggies and herbs that can be used in school lunches, but things like that take time. I think starting with flowers is a good idea to give everyone something beautiful to look at and hopefully create more interest in the club.” 

The garden will include raised beds with items like herbs and other plants that work with the amount of sunlight in the courtyard and are relatively easy to get started. The plan is to first build a foundation for the garden to make planting easier. The Urban Gardening club has begun planning the layout and are going to begin clearing out the space, building the beds, and planting in the near future. 

“We will start the week of exams on June 6, after the Math exams, with prepping the area, checking pH levels, weeding, removing the mulch and fabric that are on the area now, hopefully we can start planting as well” said Ms. Coffey. The plan for the June 6 meeting is to get some of the specifics planned out so planting can begin over the summer. Students can get involved in helping create the garden in the courtyard by joining the Urban Gardening club or participating in planting days and other activities the club organizes. 

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