CASTLE ROCK — Children’s laughter blended with a potpourri of aromas cooked up by the bright morning sunshine: The sharp scent of fresh, damp soil. The sweet, organic bouquet of young tomato plants. The tangy whiff of wet veggie sprouts.
They all were part of a scene that looked as wholesome as its purpose.
Tuesday morning, volunteers joined students, teachers and administrators from Castle Rock elementary and intermediate schools to plant a new elementary school garden. But the effort, sponsored by Castle Rock Blooms and Castle Rock Senior Center, intends to cultivate more than peppers, beans and other produce.
Its larger purpose is to grow relationships between school children and senior citizens.
Castle Rock nurserywoman Nancy Chennault, the volunteer coordinator for the Bloom team, said the idea to partner the school with the senior center had been growing for a while. She wanted to create a place where people could come together and share a harvest.
“The idea with this location is that folks from the senior center will be able to come in here and work with the kids. I’m hoping they’ll be able to share stories of their gardens. We want to make sure people see the younger students involved because that’s our future,” Chennault said.
The students helped prepare and plant the garden by putting up stakes for climbing plants, poking their fingers in the plant seeds, and watering new sprouts. They ran circles around the donated planter boxes while they talked about foods they wanted to eat.
“I’m really excited for the peppers,” said a student in a blue shirt while poking seeds into the dirt with a Bloom volunteer.
The Bloom program organized the donation of the boxes and seeds for the entire project. It also linked the senior citizen center with the schools.
“It’s pretty cool to bring the generations together. We just thank the community and businesses that have donated to make this possible,” said Castle Rock Primary School Principal Veronica Heller.
“The cool thing is everybody is willing to contribute. It’s a team atmosphere. The community support is pretty amazing,” said Castle Rock Intermediate School Principal David Starkey.
Georgia Cox, a senior center resident and garden volunteer, said she’s exited about the collaboration and the fresh produce it will bring to the seniors.
“We love fresh vegetables. They used to bring (them) over from the community gardens. They would put it out and (they) would be gone before the day was over. Now we can have that again,” Cox said.
The garden has involved the whole elementary school, partly through a mural that its 600 students made as a garden backdrop. The mural depicts green beans, lettuce, colorful red tomatoes and yellow peppers. The children helped design the mural and then painted it before it was hung on Tuesday morning.
“You can see all the brush strokes from the kids. They’re not perfect but it’s our art work, and it’s going to be awesome from the road,” said Castle Rock art teacher Colleene Little, who supervised the mural work.
Chennault said the idea to bring everyone together in a garden “just kind of mushroomed.”
“It just seemed like this was the year,” she said. “It would be great to bring the senior citizens in to a place they can actually access from town.”