Fitness lifestyle teacher Stephanie Beaty maintains Marjory’s Vegetable Garden on campus


Fitness lifestyle teacher Stephanie Beaty watering sunflowers in Marjory’s Garden. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Beaty

Phiona Smith and Dhaanya Balaji

Stephanie Beaty, the fitness lifestyle teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has made great contributions to help develop a multi-vegetable garden on campus. Beaty has been keeping up with the garden for about two years and has done impactive work with her green thumb.

The garden consists of an immense amount of plant biodiversity divided into a variety of sections, each of which is designated for plant production. 

“We have a butterfly garden, zen garden, outdoor classroom, young tropical food forest and new flower garden,” Beaty said. “In the past, we had a lot of veggies, but this year we decided to transform the veggie beds into flower beds.”

By changing the plants, the process allows for the flower beds to rest and prevents consequences like diseases and pests from circulating in the area.The garden undergoes an array of projects to assure proper maintenance, ranging from construction, landscaping and horticulture. 

A key takeaway Beaty has discovered from her work in the garden is how to adjust gardening to Florida’s weather. 

“If there is one thing that I have learned about gardening in South Florida, it would be the benefits of mulch,” Beaty said. 

Thick layers of mulch can help retain the moisture in the soil and prevent any weed growth. Florida’s climate is very rainy so nutrients in the soil can easily be washed away, and as a result, fertilizer and manure is important to add to keep these important nutritious properties in the soil.

This year has been full of chaos but Beaty still finds time to work in the garden. 

“This year, I try to spend the first 20 minutes of each school day in the garden and it has really helped me keep perspective on the chaos of the school year,” Beaty said.  “I can see what the plants need and address issues as soon as they pop up. Every Monday morning, I enjoy cutting a dozen zinnias and putting them in a vase for the week.”

The garden has changed Beaty’s perspective on how this school year is going. Not only does she spend her mornings in the garden, but so do her students. 

Every Sunday, students come from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to work in the garden. Not only do the students help her, but the bees help everyone by pollinating flowers for plant growth. 

Although Beaty has worked very hard to maintain the productivity of the garden, she says she cannot take all of the credit. Kyle Jeter, an astronomy teacher who is in charge of Marjory’s Garden, has also helped out.

“[Out of the] many teachers that work with the garden, Mr. Jeter is the superhero,” Beaty said. “I consider myself more of the resident plant lady, or the Poison Ivy villainess, depending on the day/night.”

Kyle Jeter, one of the few Astronomy teachers in all of Broward County, values all of the impacts Beaty has made with Marjory’s Garden this year. Jeter announces that Beaty’s decision of switching from vegetable beds to flower beds have been very lucrative to the garden.

“Ms. Beaty has made a huge impact on Marjory’s Garden this year. It’s really enjoyable seeing all the beautiful flowers, including giant sunflowers, when entering the garden,” Jeter said.“We now have everything from bananas to papaya to pineapple growing. [Beaty] also led the creation of fun, little signs throughout the garden, one of 10 projects offered on the Day of Service.” 

Students of all grades have an opportunity to help out in the garden. Updates regarding the garden can be found  on Instagram @marjorys_garden or on Remind, which can be joined by texting @msdgarden to 81010.