MSD’s Marjory’s Garden undergoes changes to hydroponics system and Everglades zone

Cypress Northcraft, Writer

New additions were made to Marjory’s Garden this year. The biggest changes and improvements in the garden include a new wildflower garden, a revamped classroom, a new hydroponics tower, an expanded Everglades Zone and a footbridge. Additionally, many new plants and trees were planted to amplify the beauty of the area.

Located on the southwest corner of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the idea of Marjory’s Garden came from astronomy teacher Kyle Jeter and chemistry teacher Sean Simpson in 2016. However, the garden officially opened in 2018 in honor of activist and conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the school’s namesake. To maintain its upkeep, the garden is open to student volunteers from various clubs.

“It takes a lot of people to make big changes in the garden, but every improvement starts from the idea of one person, which is what makes the garden such an amazing opportunity to grow,” Marjory’s Garden Club Co-President Jennifer Scheckowitz said.

The newly expanded Everglades Zone is a fundamental part of the garden run by TV Production teacher Eric Garner. It is supposed to represent native Florida flora and animals, such as the Swallowtail butterfly. The new addition takes inspiration from Stoneman Douglas herself and her book on the Everglades called “The Everglades: River of Grass.”

The brand new wildflower garden is another new spot added to attract native pollinators, like native butterflies, bees and moths, to the garden.

The newly improved water tanks more efficiently distribute water through the hydroponics system. Hydroponics is a self-sustaining system that uses fish feces from the catfish and bluegills in the garden fish pond to feed young saplings planted in water.

“There’s been a ton of new plantings that we’ve had out there for the last year, and everything is just getting bigger,” Garner said.

Every Sunday morning, members of Marjory’s Garden Club work together to preserve the garden. Volunteers, faculty and other community walkers are also welcome to come out and maintain the garden.

“Every improvement we make is a product of hard work from our amazing staff members, volunteers and alumni that show up every Sunday,” Scheckowitz said.

There are still big hopes for the garden, even after all of the work that has been put in. One day, the club members hope to someday plant avocados, mangos, papayas, rows of corn and sunflowers. Another goal is to supply culinary with produce growing in the garden.

Marjory’s Garden will embrace new big features in the near future, like new aquaponics, a system that uses the waste of farmed fish that purifies the water and provides more nutrients to the plants. For now, student volunteers will continue preserving the current garden.

This story was originally published in the February 2023 Eagle Eye print edition.