Fostering Gables’ Green Thumb: The Garden Project

Marina Devine on a sunny day working on the communal garden she, Chico and other Gables students have worked hard on building together.

Courtesy of Maria Devine

Marina Devine on a sunny day working on the communal garden she, Chico and other Gables students have worked hard on building together.

Camila Ruiz, Staff Writer

Being a Coral Gables Senior High International Baccalaureate student can be a time-consuming commitment that requires responsibility and hard work. Nevertheless, for juniors Marina Devine and Lucia Chico it has not been hard to find a balance between schoolwork and the activities they are passionate about; especially when it comes to their Garden Project.

What Chico and Devine believed was going to be a normal Advanced Placement Human Geography class during their sophomore year resulted in the deepening of their interest in gardening, as their teacher Ms. Cosgrove began to introduce the urban agriculture unit to the class.

Lucia Chico, one of The Garden Project founders, and a student volunteer working on the first, of hopefully many, communal gardens at Gables.

Upon discussing the new content they were learning, Devine and Chico realized they both desired to promote sustainable food production in their community. Thus the student-run initiative, The Garden Project, was born and has been running since April of 2021.

“Their project is fabulous, I think it’s a great way for students to get their mind off life for some time, get in touch with nature and it creates an area that could be focused on mindfulness,” AP Human Geography teacher Ms. Cosgrove said.

The Garden Project’s main goal is to motivate Cavaliers to fight against climate and ecological crises by educating them on how to properly care for a garden, as small-scale urban agriculture helps promote sustainable eating habits. It also aims to educate interested students on how beneficial gardening can be for mental health.

“Students will learn the benefits of eating sustainably through small-scale urban agriculture in order to contribute to the fight against environmental degradation and promote mental and physical health within our broader local community,” junior Marina Devine said.

Among her interests in soccer, volunteering at pet adoption and protection centers and the National Honor Society club at Gables exists Devine’s passion for gardening. As a vegetarian, Devine has always been conscious of certain corruptions in the food industry and has constantly worked toward taking action against it.

The first garden built by The Garden Project on the Gables campus targets mental health by giving students access to the variety of herbs and flowers planted in it. (Camila Ruiz)

Besides gardening, Chico spends her time playing both school and club soccer, bringing awareness to the importance of civic engagement amongst the youth and is the Gables junior class president. Chico has always had an interest in gardening, as her mother would always encourage her to care for plants for as long as she could remember.

“I was disappointed in our world’s extremely unsustainable mass production of food and was inspired to start some change in my community,” junior Lucia Chico said.

Although The Garden Project is yet to be an official club at Gables, they have hosted events in the past in which Gables students had the opportunity to foster their green thumb.

In one of the very first meetings, students helped rake up leaves and clean up trash. Other meetings consisted of building raised garden beds and planting a variety of plants. Their efforts led to the completion of the first communal garden at Gables, which is located in the outside hallway by the 2000 building towards the front of the school campus.

This particular garden targets mental health because not only does gardening promote relaxation and an individual’s well-being, but the lavender, lemongrass, Thai basil and tea trees planted in it benefit the body and mind.

One of many achievements of The Garden Project was building the first garden at Gables with the help of student volunteers. (Courtesy of Marina Devine)

“Volunteering with The Garden Project allowed me to enjoy nature with my friends and create something that will be in Gables for many years to come,” senior Daniel Rodriguez said.

Hopefully, those volunteer opportunities resurface in the near future, as The Garden Project sees potential in the same area the first garden is located in and plans to build others around it.

Devine and Chico are also looking forward to forming a committee and giving fellow students who are equally as passionate about the environment the opportunity to become involved beyond just volunteer opportunities. Before they graduate, they will plan to hand over the baton and appoint other students to be responsible for overseeing The Garden Project so it can continue to grow at Gables.

To stay up to date on The Garden Project’s volunteer opportunities, go on their Instagram by
clicking here.