Committee chair for Boy Scout Troop 23 Sean Spiller and his team of about seven scouts recently participated in a cleanup and rebuild of the garden beds at the Clayton Huey Community Garden. The project was made even more special being that the gardens were named in honor of the late former principal Kim Hardwick.
“It was great to spend the morning with my scouts, giving back to the community,” Spiller said, both as an employee of the school district and the committee chairman for the Boy Scout troop. “We look forward to this growing season and hope that the produce grown in this garden will help local families in need.”
Hardwick, who served as the leader and principal of Clayton Huey Elementary School, died in 2019. The community mourned the loss in May of that year, remembering the leader, mother, and friend, who died suddenly in April at age 50 due to complications from surgery.
The project, according to Hardwick’s successor, principal Dennis Ricci, was taken on about seven years ago from several dedicated board of education and PTA members, as well as Hardwick herself under the guidelines of the Cornell Cooperative Extension.
“Over the years, weathering caused the garden to deteriorate and a decision was made to reconstruct many of the beds,” he said. “We had the support of several Clayton Huey families, current board of education members and their families, as well as the members of Boy Scout Troop 23. Because of the hard work of so many individuals at the same time, we were able to give this part of our school a fresh new look.”
Even though the project is no longer funded by Cornell, Spiller explained that the garden still operates under their guidelines by using no products containing pesticides or toxins, meaning the wood is not pressure-treated.
On Saturday, April 31, the boys led the cleanup and rebuilt the garden beds, also placing topsoil purchased and donated by Suffolk Soil. Rick Kleinman also provided the power tools. The adults measured and cut the wood for the frames and the older boys helped assemble.
The school, Ricci said, is now looking forward to the contributions of community members, classroom teachers and students, and some of Clayton Huey’s clubs as they begin planting this spring.
“We hope the garden can provide sustenance and learning opportunities for our community for many years to come,” he added.
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