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Green Thumbs Up

That first meeting, culminating in the May 2 ribbon-cutting for organic vegetable and herb gardens at all three Manhasset school campuses, was in September 2012.

Two organizations, both formed under the auspices of the SCA, were involved: Planet Manhasset, which under president Angela Classi and officers Merilyn Donnelly, Zari Ginsburg and Connie Parsons, spearheaded the construction of each site and Project Share, the which will distribute the produce raised to families in need. Classi, during the ribbon-cutting, told the students they were limited only by their imagination, and encouraged each one to embrace the secondary school garden as their own.

A well-attended fundraiser was held at Classi’s home in early April that featured a speaker on the topic of eating seasonally.

This summer, organic vegetables will be growing at all three schools and members of the community and schools have an opportunity to volunteer to adopt a garden of their choice for a week or more. Volunteers will weed the garden, harvest vegetables and herbs and check that they are sufficiently watered. They will also drop the harvested vegetables (after selecting some for their hard work) to Project Share for distribution to less fortunate families in the community.

The gardens do provide an opportunity for students to fulfill community service hours needed to graduate. However, to succeed, volunteers are needed. To date, The Green Club at the high school, MWCABC, Jr. Coalition, Life Skills students, and Girl Scouts have all contributed their time and energy to establish the gardens.

Each location is unique and by cultivating underutilized space and by creating outdoor classrooms the space is made more functional and appealing. At Shelter Rock Elementary School there is a stretch of about 180 feet that will be divided into 30-foot sections as donations of time and funds are received. Families will be asked to adopt a garden for one-week intervals.

Of course, Classi announced, they couldn’t have done it without the approval of the administration, and she thanked Superintendent Charlie Cardillo and Principal Dean Schlanger, both present at the ribbon cutting. Schlanger said every year there has been a different initiative and this will be a wonderful resource for the students and community. Additionally, Angela Classi said the support of the BOE, school administration, teachers and custodial staff helped ensure that the gardens were built in a sustainable and professional manner. Board of education members Regina Rule and Carol Prinzo were present as were Gary Pfaeffle, eighth-grade technology teacher, who constructed the beds and Theresa Manieri, head custodian, who assisted with the planning and execution of the project. The garden was dedicated to Arnie Simms, a ‘Coach for All Seasons.’

Green thumbs in the community are heartily welcomed to join and help, whether it be to offer garden tips or help plant, coordinate volunteers, etc... And they are encouraged to visit Sign Up Genius for the three Manhasset school campus sites:

Planet Manhasset – Edible Organic Gardens at Shelter Rock School Invite at

Planet Manhasset – Edible Organic Gardens at Munsey Park School Invite at

Planet Manhasset – Edible Organic Gardens at Manhasset Secondary School Invite at