School garden in Ybor helps kids grow - WNCN: News, Weather

School garden in Ybor helps kids grow

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - A garden outside the Academy Prep Center in Ybor City is a place for students to learn to grow and grow to learn. The garden helps cultivate and enrich their education.

"I love gardening because it helps me learn how to take care of other things other than myself," said Takkarri Mungin, a 7th grader at the Academy Prep.

Academy Prep is a middle school for students who qualify for need-based scholarships. The rigorous program helps prepare the students for high school and beyond.  Leadership Tampa Bay members toured the facility and took the school on as its class project.

"We were just blown away with the commitment from the students, the results they were achieving out here," said Dan Madine, Leadership Tampa Bay Class President. "We knew right away that we wanted to support it."

Leadership Tampa Bay is a group of local professionals that go into the community to help solve issues in the region.

"We reached back out to Academy Prep and said where are we needed," said Madine. "Mrs. Nita raised her hand and said we would love some help on the garden."

During the summer, 25 members of the organization descended on the garden with two truck loads of soil and a willingness to get their hands dirty.  The members trimmed back a huge oak tree to allow sunlight onto the garden. They reorganized the students' plots and put up new fencing.  

A few of the fence posts are decorated like crayons with inspirational words painted on them.

"To make it more like middle school, they put some bright colors here," said Anita Wash, Guidance Counselor and Garden Group leader. "They built a compost for the children to put some of their snacks to teach them about composting, and then the pergola and the benches."

Gardening group students have their own plots in the garden where they can plant what they want.  They each must weed and water their plot throughout the year.

Madine says taking care of the school's garden renovations would normally be the only project for a Leadership Tampa Bay class, but they wanted to go a step further.

Every year, the 8th graders from Academy Prep take a trip to Washington, D.C., and the Leadership Tampa Bay class wanted to also fund that trip. They planned an event called "Cars for a Cause."

"We have about a dozen unique cars, everything from classic cars to celebrity cars to awesome Lamborghinis," said Madine.  

The event is Saturday, Oct. 19th from 7 until 11 p.m. at the duPont Registry at 3051 tech Drive in St. Petersburg. Tickets are $100, and six local breweries will also be there.

Cars for a Cause and the garden renovations are part of community leaders helping community students grow from the ground up.

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