The Avon East School Garden: Growing Fresh Food & the Spirit of Community

The Avon East Garden, located in the courtyard at Avon East Elementary School on Nagel Road, is a special place for students, teachers and community to enjoy and learn in a beautiful space.

“Our Farmer’s Market”

The garden was inspired by second-grader William Powell, the son of Neely and Jim Powell, and his love and passion for all things nature and gardening.

Principal of Avon East, Erin Holzhauer, presented the idea of a school garden to the Powell family after learning of Will’s love of gardening. Inspired by years of teaching young children, the Powells, along with the Principal Holzhauer, embarked on the journey of involving the East Community (students, parents, teachers and more) in using the existing courtyard and turning it into the beautiful space that it is today. The East Community, as well as the Avon Community, embraced the idea and put their hearts and spirit into creating an amazing space for our youth.

“We wouldn’t be here without the volunteers and support of Avon schools,” says Neely Powell. “When we started this project – I had a vision of children getting their hands in the dirt, learning about nature and experiencing this natural and authentic education. We experienced this and it has been beautiful. What I didn’t expect is that I would meet the most amazing people that have brought so much light into my life – truly selfless people that just want to make the world a better place.”

The garden came together with a vision and many volunteers that donated their time and resources. A committee of teachers at Avon East meet monthly to discuss ways to incorporate the garden into the curriculum. This allows for the curriculum to be tailored to each student. The social and emotional component to the experience, “the unspoken curriculum,” gives students learning opportunities they may have never had to explore different interests outside of the typical curriculum.

The efforts of many volunteers are the hallmark of the garden.

Follow the signs

John Kaminski designed the initial installation of the pollinator plants and butterfly garden. Cash donations and local businesses gave to the project to allow for this to happen. Gardening tools were donated by Ray’s Auto and a local brownie troop created a bird sanctuary.

Jerry Galant, life-long Avon resident and Vietnam veteran, built over 20 raised beds for the garden. He built the beds out of recycled pallets. With the help of volunteers from Avon NHS students, throughout the winter the beds were sanded, painted and ready for planting.

Another life long resident, Karen Conant from Ridge Bridge Farms donated all of the seeds, seedlings, and her time to planning and planting the vegetable garden. Karen’s knowledge about farming and her dedication and donations to the garden allowed for every child at Avon East to have a chance to plant and take part in making this space a true success.

Many other parents and community members have volunteered a great deal of time and resources to ensure the garden project has been successful for our students. They donated a weather station for students to track rainfall and weather patterns.

This spring, every student had the opportunity to plant in the garden. The second-graders planted the cold weather veggies and were able to see the growth before leaving for the summer. The first graders planted the summer vegetables and flowers and will continue to see the growth into the fall when they return.

“It’s such a good feeling to see so many people putting effort into making this space so beautiful and creating a culture that supports the social and emotional well being of our kids and our teachers,” adds Powell. “The PTA has worked hard to support the gardens in the schools. They donated a weather station for students to track rainfall. The students are also able to learn about different animals, insects and plants that inhabit the garden.

“I think we can all agree that everyone wants the best for our children. We all invest time and energy into opportunities that benefit our youth,” says Powell. “This community and the Avon Schools are invested in our children. We see that everyday in our schools and the community’s commitment to creating opportunities for our children. My hope is that we can all continue to come together, even if you aren’t gardening at home, to join us and give it a try. Farmers Markets will be listed on our Facebook page and all are welcome.”

In the works: The new Green space at the Avon Early Learning Center was designed by John Nash. This project is in the works and will be a space for students to read, play and discover nature. The beds will feature a rainbow theme with natural seating and play spaces.

Visit their Facebook site at Avon Eagles Garden Club.

Click here for more photos.

Avon East Garden Donations:

  • Jerry Galant – Vietnam veteran made over 20 raised beds and planters, the market stand, butterfly houses, bird feeders and a beautiful American flag for the garden.
  • Karen Conant at Ridge Bridge Farms donated all of the seedlings, plants and seeds to make this project possible.
  • J&J Landscaping owner Josh Miller donated $500 and paid for our perennial plants and bushes up front
  • John Kaminski is a parent in the community and was a true partner in planning, organizing and worked countless hours in the garden
  • Maria Vonk and family helped design and implement the composting station.
  • Ray’s Auto and Truck services donated the stump grinding and all of the tools for the garden (around $1,500)
  • Avon Brownie Girl Scout troop 50784 donated the bird sanctuary (houses, baths, food)
  • Kurtz Brothers donated soil for the initial planting
  • Green Circle Growers donated 650 bulbs
  • Avon High School National Honor Society for countless hours of community service
  • Senior Girl Scout troop number 50685 Giavanna Anamasi sanded and painted the picnic tables in the courtyard.
  • Mooses Mission donated a duck house for the ducks that come to the courtyard each year.
  • Tammy Holtzmeire family donated a duck house built by long time resident Jack Gillis and partnered with the Avon Athletic Boosters to print the large eagle on the house
  • Avon PTA donated a weather station for all students to use.
  • Greenhouse donated by Geeva Nanda and put together by Dr. Chapman and family
  • Jenny Herbert donated a WIFI bird house camera and their family sanded all of the benches and has worked endlessly to make this garden possible.
  • Adam Snyder (snyder services LCC) donated the power washing to clean the courtyard
  • Rain Barrel donated by Rain Barrels and More
  • Be a little Boulder for Mental Health donated 600 rocks hand picked around Lorain County for our students to paint and put into the rock garden.
  • Pete from Computer Recycling in Avon donated all of this time to stain the benches and paint the bench stands (many hours)
  • Shannon Santee donated 300 for planting materials and all of the stain to paint our many benches
  • Watering Cans and bird seed donation: Katie Junker, Dena Fisher and Sarah Hughes
  • Many Avon families have donated their time and money.
  • Fall and Christmas decorations- we had many families donate trees and decorations. I have a list of the names/businesses/clubs etc…
  • Avon Early Learning Center Green Space
  • The new AELC donation: John Nash at Nash Project Management drew the plans for the design and donated his time to build the structures for the new green space.
  • Forest City Ecological Services donated 25 tree stumps and delivered them for seating in the new green space.

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