Students at Bevis Elementary School have a new garden to enjoy and learn in thanks to a collaboration between the school and local businesses.

Students at a Lithia school have a new place to learn this month thanks to a collaboration between school staff and local businesses. Bevis Elementary School in FishHawk Ranch developed a garden for its students with help from Crossroads Produce, Ace Hardware and Sporting Goods of Lithia, 360 Customs and Kerby’s Nursery.

The idea for the garden came from School Counselors Catherine France and Waleska Ramos.

“We had an empty space that we knew we could transform for all students and staff to utilize and enjoy,” said France. “As counselors, we know that every student is different and has different needs. When we are called to work with a student, we may bring them to our office to talk; however, we realized that sometimes students needed to have the freedom to move around, get some fresh air and sunlight while working with their hands.”

France hopes that all students and staff will get to use the garden.

“We wanted to create a safe place for everyone to enjoy while still focusing on social and emotional goals, with an added bonus of science,” she said. “We work together to make sure it stays clean and growing strong. The students get many valuable lessons when taking care of something else, the nature, calming atmosphere, fresh air and sunlight, and channeling big feelings or emotions into a constructive task.”

She also feels that having a job in the garden will help some students thrive. Daily tasks that students can participate in include measuring and observing growth, observing the growth of monarch caterpillars and butterflies, weeding and harvesting fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs as they are ready.

The school is thankful for the donations, without which the garden would not have been possible.

“Ace Hardware donated several bags of river rocks and lots of seeds,” said France. “Crossroads Produce donated multiple sprouting vegetables, herbs, ornamentals and perennials and Kerby’s donated soil, vegetable sprouts and lots of seeds.”

After a post on the Bevis Parents Facebook page, an additional business, 360 Customs, donated funds to purchase turf.

Some items, including a long hose, storage bench and sun sail to protect the garden from the sun, are still needed.

To learn more or donate to the garden, call the school, located at 5720 Osprey Ridge Dr., at 740-4000.

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Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.