Madison Elementary garden getting makeover

PARKERSBURG – When students return to Madison Elementary School next week, the garden on school grounds will have a makeover and it will be a new outdoor learning center.

Esther Lauderman, principal, said the garden project is led by Erik Musgrave, whose mother is a teacher at the school. She said he is doing the project to become an Eagle Scout.

Lauderman said the garden has been a part of the school for as long as she has been at the school and this is the second time it has been reworked.

Funding for the project came from a $4,000 Waste Management Think Green grant. Amanda Marks-Cunningham, Waste Management public affairs coordinator in West Virginia, said the school was one of 20 awarded grants.

“I’m a Life Scout and I’m trying to get my Eagle,” said Musgrave, who is a member of Troop 12 at Stout Memorial United Methodist Church. “I saw this garden and it was trashed, so I took it on as my Eagle project.”

Musgrave said the garden was overgrown with weeds and sapling trees that were at least six feet tall. Lauderman said the tree was removed in the spring because school maintenance personnel said the tree could damage the new roof.

“After the tree was removed all the flowers died because they were not used to full sun,” she said.

Musgrave said after the clearing he and volunteers began to remove the tree’s root system, rebuilt the garden borders and leveled the surface. He said they are in the process of setting out new plants and a new tree.

“It will be an outdoor learning center for the school in addition to being a garden,” Lauderman said. “After school starts each kid will plant a bulb around the tree.”

Musgrave said the bulbs to be planted will be for daffodils, tulips and crocuses and there will be markers identifying them. On Wednesday Musgrave said the project is halfway finished.

Two years ago, Lauderman said, the garden was revitalized by another as an Eagle Scout project.

“As we planned this Amanda said ‘Waste Management is your partner in education and we’d like to be part of this’ and she told us about the Think Green grants,” Lauderman said. “We are so thankful for having Waste Management as a partner in education because we would not have known about this grant.”

Lauderman said there is no way the school would have been able to do this without the grant.

“Erick nor the school would have been able to do a project of this level because of a lack of funds,” she said. “We don’t have money like this lying around to do things like this.”

Lauderman said many of the volunteers came from Musgrave’s scout troop and Waste Management helped in removing the debris from the garden. His grandparents, Jerry and June Jenson of Hot Springs Village, Ark., have been helping also.

“Mike Reynolds Landscaping has been working with Erick by providing a plan for the new garden,” she said. “In the spring Erick interviewed students to find out what they wanted.”

Musgrave said the students told him they wanted flowers to attract birds, bees and butterflies.

Another helper has been Margaret Hunter, an area master gardener. Lauderman said Musgrave has consulted with her and after the project, Hunter will come back to work with students to maintain the garden.