As Upper School students recently trucked back and forth to classes between Hamden Hall’s Whitney Avenue and Davis Street campuses on a patch of land called Eli Whitney Park, some of their peers were busy with one last community service project.
Members of the senior class helped plant a pollinator garden at the town-owned park, which is the triangular-shaped parcel of land sandwiched between Davis Street, Whitney Avenue, and Eli Road. On hand to help with the project was Hamden town gardener Lyn Baumgartner, a Hamden Hall 1975 non-graduating student.
Under her guidance, Nathan Thomas and Ruth Wang planted marigolds around the perimeter of the garden. Tucked inside those borders were native perennials such as echinacea, coreopsis, swamp milkweed, butterfly weed, native asters, and woodland phlox, which science teacher Richard Chiaramonte dug holes for before plopping each plant into its new home.
Nearby, Upper School Dean of Students John Greenawalt sat cross-legged in the soil planting parsley, dill, fennel, and mountain mint. Also lending a hand were seniors Spencer McCleery and Steven Zhang.
“The idea behind a pollinator garden is to create a green space that supports pollinators and maintains the diverse circle of nature that continues to be threatened,” said Mr. Greenawalt.
Pollinator gardens are critical to a healthy environment as they attract birds, bees, butterflies, and other species. Creating such habitats help with the much-needed spread of pollinators, which in turn assist with continued fruit and vegetable production. The town of Hamden has more than 50 pollinator gardens on various parcels of land.
“Our food supply depends on pollination,” explained Ms. Baumgartner, who added that she was teaching Gardening 101 to the novice gardeners.
The 12x20 garden won’t just provide sustenance for local pollinators, it will also create an aesthetically pleasing site on the patch of land that our Upper School students sometimes cross going to and from classes. By selecting plants that blossom at different times – including some annuals – the garden will bloom bright and colorful.
Prior to the actual planting, seniors including Rebecca McChesney helped clear the area of sticks and other debris and used an aged soil amender on the garden site to better promote and support growth. Ms. Baugartner, who enrolled at Hamden Hall in Kindergarten in 1963, also rototilled the land prior to planting day.
Some nearby seating that sits in proximity to the pollinator garden will also receive the Hamden Hall touch. Mr. Chiaramonte said he and some students will renovate the rotting bench in the MakerSpace Design Lab during an after-school project in September.
Moving forward, the pollinator garden will be used as an educational tool for students both on Earth Day and other times of the year. Hamden Hall also has an Early Childhood Learning Garden on its Whitney Avenue campus adjacent to Hall Street.
According to Mr. Greenawalt, over the years Hamden Hall students have pitched in to maintain several of Hamden’s outdoor resources.
“The school helps clean up the Farmington Canal Linear Trail, East Rock Park, and Sleeping Giant State Park,” he said.
Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.