Category Archives: Garden

Spring Garden Planting 2016-2017

Sagamore Hills, Sagamore Hills, How Does Your S.T.E.M. Garden Grow?

It grows with an outpouring of loving support from enthusiastic students, dedicated volunteers, vested community members, and generous sponsors. This beautifully eclectic group makes for the best garden family…which I am so proud to be a member. Together we each played our parts in making the expected HUGE Spring Garden Planting more successful than imagined. It all began with having our tough, coarse soil freshly tilled into a loose, fine consistency. Mr. John Miller and Mrs. Lynn Douglas freed our Garden Club Member’s from this daunting task by taking care of it ahead of time. Then came an ENORMOUS herb, flower and vegetable plant donation from new Assistant Store Manager, Mr. Chad Meetre , and Store Manager, Mr. Shawn Brooks, at The Home Depot in Decatur. This gifting was enough to fill a vehicle trunk and cargo bed to capacity. Sagamore’s Head Custodian, Mr. Zellner, was kind enough to assist in the pickup and delivery process of these delectable items. We got beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes…YOU NAME IT-we got it, and then some!

miller tilling, tilling, home depot donation, custodian zellner

But, the excitement didn’t stop there. The ASA students and morning bus riders, along with creative support from Paraprofessional-Mr. Gardner and Kitchen Staff Members-Ms. Leonard and Ms. Shade, custom designed extra-large paint sticks to label each plants place in the garden. During the actual planting, our 130 plus Jr. and Sr. S.T.E.M. Garden Club membership took care of the gardening business at hand. Students channeled their energy into digging deep holes, perfectly positioning, gently covering and snugly patting each plant into their nutrient rich new homes in the soil. Seeing all of our garden beds over flowing with new life was a sight to behold.

kitchen staff labels, planting, garden beds

To continuously meet the watering demands of our thriving garden program we “have stepped up our rainwater harvesting game”.  Or at least that is what Engineer and Georgia Tech alumnus, Mr. Richard Hanson, owner of Georgia Water Tanks and his assistant Eric said as they recently installed our 5,000-gallon Cistern. What is a CISTERN you may ask? It is a ginormous above ground rain barrel with pressurized pumping mechanisms. This amazing donation was made possible through our continued partnership with The Captain Planet Foundation and was funded by a grant from the Georgia Aquarium…we are taking High-Tech into the garden!


Having this Eco-friendly watering system totally aligns with the academic curriculum we teach (Ancient Greek and Roman History), S.T.E.M designs we create (Low-Flow Shower Heads) and environmental consciousness we foster (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle) in every grade-level at Sagamore Hills Elementary School. It didn’t take long for our inventive students to engineer a way to get the Cistern water to the more deprived areas beyond its reach…enter wagons and watering cans. Real-World S.T.E.M. application people!

wagons watering

Retired DCSD Teacher, Master Gardener and Sagamore Community Member, Mrs. Betsy Razza summed up the impactful experience best by paying this tremendous compliment to our program, “It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the children as they planted the vegetables. Sagamore Hills provides the children with a sense of accomplishment, ownership and an appreciation of nature.

Many hands and hearts went into making this year’s Spring S.T.E.M. Garden planting an awe-inspiring success from start, finish and beyond.

Mrs. Tasha L. J. Messer

S.T.E.M. Garden Club Co-Director
Edible Schoolyard Academy Alumnae 2016
Monarchs Across Georgia Certified
Captain Planet Project Learning Garden Liaison
Bachelors of Arts in Sociology
IRR SE Paraprofessional
Sagamore Hills Elementary School
1865 Alderbrook Road
Atlanta, GA 30345

See also

Garden Club update 2017-03

“Look…I’m Making A Plant!”

This precious quote from Kindergartner, Levi Anderson, was one of the many delightful comments, gestures and playful learning experiences shared between members and volunteers during both our Jr. and Sr. March S.T.E.M. Garden Club activities. Our theme this month was “Seed Starting”. Each group experimented with making their own nutrient-rich soil by combining regular top soil with a 100% organic seed-starting mixture.  We had plenty of these magical ingredients to go around thanks to a surprise contribution of a few extra bags from the Karlowicz family. Biodegradable peat pots and toilette tissue rolls were then filled to capacity with this compound. Using their fingers or craft sticks, members dug tiny holes for an assortment of vegetable, herb and flower seeds to be gently placed in their cozy new homes. One inventive group thought totally outside the box and custom designed roll-out seed tape using toilette tissue. Another mother-son team prepped a weed ridden bed for removal of these pesky plants once and for all. Everyone was working with one common purpose in mind, getting ready for Spring.

Many of the seeds used were donated through our newly formed partnership with the Sow True Seed organization in North Carolina. “Sow, Germinate, Grow, Pollinate and Save,” are the five intentions that dictate their corporate behavior. The STEM-tastic gardening adventures happening inside and out of the building on these days not only supported their effort but ours as well. These certifiably viable, open pollinated, non-hybrid GMO-FREE, heirloom, organic and traditional seeds represent the best there is…in other words…we got the GOOD stuff baby! It’s no wonder that after just one week of tender loving care by the ASA (after school care) participant’s SPROUTS emerged! We will continue to care for these now delicate seedlings in the greenhouse until our big April: Spring Garden Planting. This also marks a wonderfully progressive first for our S.T.E.M. Garden Clubs as we are transplanting seedlings we grew from seeds with our very own hands.

In addition to the relationship we are fostering with the Sow True Seed organization; we must acknowledge our newly forged partnership with The Home Depot in Decatur and old favorite Bonnie Plants. The Home Depot has donated $200 in community improvement coupons for use towards the purchase of gardening plants and supplies. A meeting is scheduled with Operations Manager-Milia Murdock, over the summer to discuss ongoing contributions throughout the 2017-2018 school year…To Be Continued. Our 3rd Graders received their annual delivery of Bonnie cabbage plants to take home and potentially grow big enough to win a $1000 scholarship. The leftover cabbage plants were generously donated to our school gardens. Third grade ASA participants led the Fourth and Fifth graders in transplanting these hearty greens into our Captain Plant Project Learning Garden. As you can see, happy gardening is an authentic thing at Sagamore Hills Elementary School.

2016 Summer Garden and More at Sagamore Hills Elementary

Gardens & Grounds Facelift

Community Building at its FINEST!

From Tasha Messer,
Sagamore Hills Elementary School Paraprofessional
and parent volunteer


As you approach our school you will notice that our gardens and grounds look more beautiful than ever! Their amazingly fresh appearance is largely due to the tireless efforts of a small group of student, parent, community member, business partner, and staff volunteers. Under the direction of Mrs. Messer, Paraprofessional at Sagamore Hills Elementary School, these individuals embarked on a summer-long gardening adventure!

Watering CANS!On the Edge (2)Initially, they were requested to attend to our S.T.E.M. Learning Garden (located in the courtyard) and the, recently installed, Captain Planet Project Learning Garden (located outside the exterior doors of the cafeteria). The maintenance of both required a rigorous amount of watering, weeding and harvesting during extremely hot and humid weather conditions. Although a daunting task at times, they stayed the course.

Grassy GrinWeed Wacking WomanAs things began to grow abundantly, the team was asked to expand their scope to include the upkeep of the school grounds as a whole. They replied with a resounding YES, adding an extra layer of responsibilities to their list of things to do. The new tasks now included mowing the lawns, weed eating edges, raking leaves, trimming hedges, bagging twigs, blowing away debris and litter collection. They had made it up in their minds that Sagamore Hills would not only hold the title of dual certified S.T.E.M school but look the part as well!

Messer MenTheir greatest source of motivation came from the simple pleasure of knowing that they were helping the school BE MORE! The gratitude displayed by school administration and maintenance staff was uplifting. However, the outpouring of compliments from surrounding community members was enough to evoke an emotion in any humble spirit. They were truly the wind beneath our wings.

Work Work Work Work Work Greenhouse IIThe pièces de résistance were the construction of the Green House and the completion of the Captain Planet Project Learning Garden (CPPLG) Revitalization Project. Mr. Mark Bollinger and his family-team committed three days to installing our adult-size, high tech greenhouse. Its S.T.E.M.-iest features are the nitroglycerin lifts that enable the vents to open and close automatically as temperatures dictate.

The CarbajalsNight & DayMr. Alexis Carbajal volunteered his time to, single handedly, professionally pressure wash and paint the badly peeling doors, windows and vents on the wall facing the Captain Planet Project Learning Garden. To make it more aesthetically pleasing, he even pressure washed the sidewalks as well. Thankfully, he had the moral support of his family including Mama Carbajal visiting all the way from Uruguay! They joined him every evening and weekend making for a delightful display of work-play moments.

DonationIn honor of The Sherwin-Williams Company 150-Year Anniversary; Mr. Bear Brown, Store Manager of the Shamrock Plaza location, donated ten gallons of paint and heavily discounted the cost of the remaining supplies needed to complete the painting project. The retail value for those items would have exceeded $900! After discounts were calculated, Mrs. Taylor generously contributed the lesser balance due for those supplies.

3 Thumbs UpLeaf PilesDuring this tremendous effort 760 water rotations were completed, hundreds of weeds were pulled, 78 bags of debris were collected and hauled, many unusual insects were discovered and countless bug bites were endured. It’s exhausting just recapping it all.

Rodriguez-Nava FamilyCutie Pie CrewA very special Thank You must be extended to the following students and their families for dedicating time during their summer break to volunteer service hours to our school. They truly embody the Be MORE motto by Doing MORE!

Acker (4th) • Alvarez-Ramos (3rd, 5th) • Baldwin (2nd, 4th) • Carbajal (4th) • Douglas (1st) • Helander (2nd) • Jones (2nd) • Karlowicz (1st) • Lake (3rd) • Martinez (2nd) • McMahan (kindergarten, 5th) • Meeks (1st) • Messer (2nd) • Perlmutter (pre-k, 3rd) • Rodriguez-Nava (5th) • Sanders (1st) • Shevlin (kindergarten, 2nd, 4th)