Ad’s Green Fleet sprouts up at FIS

Farragut Intermediate School fifth-grade teacher Ashley Paquette shows Admiral’s Green Fleet members, from left, Mubeen Malik, Olivia Borton and Emma Scheve how to transplant cilantro during a Thursday, Feb. 13, garden club meeting.
This year, 16 Farragut Intermediate School students from all three grade levels are learning what makes a garden grow.

They are part of a newly formed garden club, Admiral’s Green Fleet, which meets after school every Thursday, planting seeds in starter pots, transplanting growing plants and planting lettuce and garlic in a garden bed near the soccer field.

For one student, fifth-grader Mubeen Malik, the club is a chance to continue with what he learned from his dad.

“Me and my dad have been gardening since I was almost 3 or 4,” he said. “Every day in the summer time I would go outside and garden.”

Mabeen said he hopes to learn more about taking care of plants and providing the school with more plants “to make it look nicer.”

“I like planting and I like gardening,” fourth-grader Wesley Green said about joining Admiral’s Green Fleet. She added she hopes to, maybe, “get my own garden,” learning “how I can help other communities with their gardens.”

“It was just an idea,” fifth-grade teacher Ashley Paquette said about starting the club. “I’ve seen other schools that have garden clubs, such as Hardin Valley Elementary.

“(University of Tennessee’s) Master Gardener Program also was an inspiration,” she added. “I’m not a master gardener, but seeing and learning from others — seeing what master gardeners have done — has been pretty incredible.

“So, I’m learning as well as the kids,” Paquette said.

She derives help from FIS’s Parent-Teacher Association.

“Our PTA here is wonderful,” she said. “Carla Sexton is the grounds chair. I contacted her with the idea (of the club) first, and then, it just kind of grew from there.”

The club started Jan. 23 and already has doubled in the number of members.

Students’ response to the club was “overwhelming,” Paquette said. “I actually had to turn some parents away who had e-mailed me with interest.”

Students started some herb and vegetable seeds three weeks ago.

“Some, we will take home; some we will put in the garden up behind the school here,” Paquette said.

There are seven raised beds in the school garden.

“They’ve been there since I’ve been at the school,” she said. “It was kind of neglected over the past few years.

“We have a mom (Andrea Valdyke) in the Farragut (school) system here — she’s a master gardener certified through UT — she has recouped all those beds that are up by the ball fields. She’s done an amazing job,” Paquette addd.

“(Valdyke) actually was working on that before the garden club got started. We’re working with her, and she has an incredible amount of knowledge.

“Last year, (Valdyke) donated most of the food to a local food pantry,” she said. “We plan to do that with what we grow here.”

Paquette also works with community leader, Ted Ansink, who will be teaching students about hydrophonics when the weather gets warmer.