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Garden club, Mountain School team up for program

The Inter-Mountain photo by Haley Gordon Volunteers from Summit Church volunteer at the monthly Feed the City event, hosted in the Railyard Restaurant. This week’s menu was Thanksgiving themed.

ELKINS — Since it began in 2015, the Elkins Mountain School Horticulture and Design Club has evolved to teach children at the Mountain School about gardening, ecology, sustainability, civic and individual pride, conservation and more.

This program, sponsored by the Emma Scott Garden Club, takes on eight to nine students between the ages of 13 and 17 to attend classes with their supervisors on Saturday afternoons.

Some of the classes in the curriculum include designing and building camping stools, designing and sewing chef’s aprons, learning how to make maple syrup, canning pickles and more.

Barbara Trimboli, founder of this program, listed some of its benefits.

“This was a project that came to my mind several years back,” she said. “It has come to fruition and I am surprised by all the interest.”

“We actually published a cookbook as a joint effort with the school with recipes from the garden club members and staff from the schools,” said Trimboli. “As a vocational type activity at the Mountain School, students learned to cut and bind the book.”

The Elkins Mountain Schools are residential treatment facilities for young men between the ages of 13 and 17.

Georgann Davis, program director at EMS, said, “(The students) take away so much knowledge and are excited about what they have learned. (…) As teenagers, simply having the opportunity to learn from others and interact with people who are so talented and willing to share their talents has a great impact on them.”

Chief Executive Officer Becky Sanders has also been quite appreciative of this program.

“The Emma Scott Garden Club is a name that doesn’t quite capture the essence of the true impact this group has had on the Elkins Mountain Schools,” said Sanders. “The beautiful touches they have added throughout the grounds of our facilities have been noticed by visitors and have created an environment that our staff and boys can be proud to work in and enjoy.”

“The youth staying with us have had struggles and have generally not experienced many successes up to this point,” Sanders continued. “The Garden Club (…) has most assuredly taught our residents the art and practice of gardening. They have taught them to enjoy nature and the simple pleasures that come from planting and watching life happen.”

More recently, the Garden Club has added a new Landscaping Apprentice Program for the young men to take part in on Mondays. They’ve learned how to landscape efficiently and put those skills to use by building a stone garden on the Oak Ridge campus of EMS.

EMS youth who log more than 10 hours of landscaping work throughout the program receive plaques and certificates for their work.

Patricia Mayes, president of the Emma Scott Garden Club, noted, “We find it is very uplifting to see the boys experiencing these different educational and hands-on experiences related to gardening and the natural world.”