On Wednesday teens employed by of the Greenwich Youth Conservation Corps were busy removing dirt from a giant tarp, clearing invasive plants encircling the garden bed fencing, and planting grasses at the Bible Street Community Gardens.
The workers were all 14- and 15-year olds, who are in 8th grade going into 9th, or 9th grade going into 10th grade.
Christina Nappi of the Town’s social services department said that, “With the help of the Resource Foundation we were able to add an additional 40 students throughout the summer. Our group sizes were 18 and there’s an increase of 10 students.”
There are 4 two-week sessions. “We completed session one and this is the second session,” she said pointing to a about a dozen teens taking turns with shovels to unearth a giant tarp that had been trapped under piles of dirt.
Nappi said that the first 2-week session was complete and Wednesday’s workers were from the second session. The 14 workers were just half of the group of 28. The other 14 were down at Tod’s Point lending a hand there.
“We try to make it equal in terms of gender — with 14 boys and 14 girls — and both public and private school students, and from different parts of Greenwich,” said Nappi who mentioned that many of the counselors return year after year
Dave Bruni said he’d been coming back 9 years. Others have been returning for a decade or more.
“Some of our graduates had a great opportunity this summer to work at Greenwich Land Trust,” Nappi said of seven students who working mostly at the Mueller Preserve. Nappi said the students all go on field trips including a venture to Holly Hill Recycling Center for a talk with Mary Hull from Green & Clean. She said the students also go to the Fishway for a talk with the Conservation Commission.
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“They had a talk from Kids in Crisis yesterday about their services,” Nappi said, adding that the students learn from different resources in town where she said teens might want to volunteer or take advantage of their services in the future.
The students in the Greenwich Youth Conservation Program are paid for their efforts, and in the afternoons they have a bit of fun and enjoy a series of lunch time guest speakers who come and talk about a variety of topics.
For example, on Wednesday, the student anticipated a talk by Tom Mahoney, director of the Health Dept.’s Office of Special Clinical Services.
The raised “universal access beds” are the most recent addition to the Community Gardens’ second community garden on Bible Street, just opposite the Garden Education Center. The universal access beds, also known as “Enabling Gardens,” allow residents with limited mobility to grow their own vegetables and herbs in beds that are raised appropriately to accommodate those in wheelchairs, seated gardeners and even standing gardeners.
“Our goal is to make our community gardens as inclusive as possible. Building these universal access beds will enable people who thought they could not garden to be able to do so, and to be as much a part of our community as any other gardener,” Sechi said.