Marjory’s Garden reopens for students after a period of closure and several changes

The Marjory garden has reopened. Students are now able to visit the new and improved garden.

Brynn Schwartz, Writer

Marjory’s Garden has reopened for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students after it was closed since June, while staff was working to ensure the garden was meeting safety protocols. With its reopening, students are now able to help with projects in the garden and eat lunch in the garden.

Marjory’s Garden, located in the southwest corner of MSD, was a project started in 2016 by MSD astronomy teacher Kyle Jeter and chemistry teacher Sean Simpson. The garden’s original purpose was to honor the legacy of activist and conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the school’s namesake. The hope was for various clubs, students and staff to collaborate on this project in an effort to urge students to get involved in gardening and sustainable living.

The Marjory’s Garden club was started in 2018 as a way to make sure that the garden was taken care of and so students could really get involved with the environment.

Over the summer, the garden was temporarily closed after some staff members installed equipment in a manner that violated safety protocols. An illegal extension cord was placed in the ground to get power out to the garden from the 1500 building without permission, which was deemed a safety hazard.

“The garden was temporarily closed as a result of staff members improperly installing some equipment without following the proper safety protocols,” Principal Michelle Kefford said. “The district’s safety department closed the garden while the issues were properly corrected.”

During the inspection, other issues in the garden were found, leading to other large and small changes being made to the garden.

“There were some minor changes-like the removal of a couple benches-and some major, like the removal of our beloved … cactus,” sophomore and Majory’s Garden club Vice President Jennifer Scheckowitz said.

The cactus was removed in compliance with Florida law on what plants are allowed on school campuses.

Several staff members have been working tirelessly to allow for the reopening of the garden. In this list includes teacher Eric Garner who is close friends with the founders of the garden, Kyle Jeter and Sean Simpson, and often helps in his spare time in the garden.

“The garden has probably never looked as good as it has before,” TV production teacher Eric Garner said.

To improve the garden, the club has organized fundraisers in the past. Past improvements include solar panels, garden beds for plants, evening out the land and a hydroponics setup. After the inspection, new additions and changes to the garden requested by the club were provided through donations.

“The changes that are desired from the garden’s leadership team are the addition of the electrical service and additional water lines,” Kefford said.

The garden now being reopened is open for all students to eat lunch in, as long as they clean up after themselves.

“It’s an incredible experience out there,” Garner said. “A lot of the kids here haven’t ever gardened… Some kids have never done that before, so it’s kind of fun for them to learn and have that chance.”

The garden has several upcoming projects lined up, from honoring our history to making food that the club hopes to use for projects and continue to sell to Tunie’s Market.