McChord Airmen clean up local school's garden

By Airman 1st Class Leah Young on November 10, 2011

Nine McChord Field Airmen rolled up their 
sleeves and strapped on their work boots as they spent a Saturday morning
cleaning and restoring a garden at Madrona School Nov. 5 in Seattle.
Madrona School, part of the Seattle Public School system, is a facility that
educates students from Kindergarten through 8th grade. The school houses a
learning garden that was overgrown and ineffectual.
"Previously, the flower beds were much larger and didn't allow children the
freedom to move around and explore," said Farah Thaxton, Medrona School
principal. "In addition, the garden was so overgrown that it was hard to
figure out what was there."
The Airmen worked for five hours to eliminate all weeds in the garden and cut
down a tree to allow space for new plants. They built wooden flower boxes,
planted new shrubbery and sprinkled mulch which created a path for children to
easily venture through the garden.
"It looks like a completely different garden," said Thaxton. "Our students
will be so excited about it."
The garden is utilized by more than 100 students over the course of a school
year. Activities such as the afterschool gardening club, preschool planting
program and science classes keep the garden a busy place.
"Not only do we teach students how to garden, but they learn how to sustain a
garden in an urban environment," said Thaxton. "We teach them how to plant,
grow and then cook their own food."
As the coordinator and representative for the school project, Staff Sgt.
Steven Seibert, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron, stressed the importance of
giving back to the community.
"As a military member, often times we receive a lot of appreciation," Seibert
said. "Giving back to our local community is a high priority. Stepping further
beyond our local area, to a place like Seattle, is meaningful because they don't
interact with us as often."
"It feels good to know that a couple hours of work will give these kids a
whole new place to learn," said Senior Airman Michael Calderon, 8th Airlift
Squadron loadmaster. "Hopefully we'll be able to come back soon and continue
to help out."
According to the principal, Madrona School has multiple upcoming projects
including painting the interior hallways and library. Nine out of nine
volunteers agree; McChord Field will be happy to provide assistance in the