The idea came to Carol Brown over the summer. The Temple Terrace Elementary School assistant principal wanted to create a community garden like the one she saw on Good Morning America. ß Principal Mary Francis Ledo first laughed at the idea. ß "She does not even like to get dirty," Ledo said.
Brown, who is known around school as the diva, donned pink and white polka dot boots with a matching ribbon in her hair for the task that had her hands firmly in the ground planting strawberries recently.
The community garden has gone from seed to sprout with the help of a $5,000 grant, and planters hope to harvest in May.
"I never imagined it would turn into this," Brown said.
And when the corn, okra, broccoli, and nearly every other vegetable imaginable is harvested, much of it will be donated to the Spring domestic violence center and Metropolitan Ministries.
"We are supporting people who don't have," Brown said.
The $5,000 grant, from Lowe's, helped pay for seeds, the planter boxes, irrigation, fencing and more on a piece of land at the school that once housed a portable classroom.
In preparation for the planting, the school's 687 students incubated seeds in greenhouses in their classrooms over the past couple of months.
School staff, including cafeteria workers, office staff and bus drivers, will help in the garden.
The idea had grown in popularity over recent months, but Mother Nature delayed the project. Finally last week the weather was nice enough to transplant the seedlings.
Second-graders Laura Neylon, Adaeze Echetebu and Brooks Nipp were planting cabbage, cucumber and parsley in one of the boxes.
"It was cool to plant a garden for the first time," Laura, 8, said.
Brooks, 8, said he "liked getting dirty."
All three said they would want to get gardens growing at home, too.
"It was a lot of hard work but the bright side is that it was a lot of fun to do," Adaeze, 7, said.
The garden features six 8- by 4-foot planting boxes, tiered circular planters for growing strawberries and blueberries, and a vine for growing grapes.
After everything was planted, Brown turned on the water misters and said it was time to clean her pink and white nails.
Jared Leone can be reached at (813) 226-3435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.