Debbie Doster’s class recently won an award from the Florida Department of Agriculture for their garden project.
"I'd like to mix a strawberry and an orange together," Tristan Small contemplated over his large-rimmed glasses. "I wonder how that would taste."
While his taste in mixed fruit may be in a little unusual, the 12-year-old's love for gardening is the norm among him and his classmates at David C. Hinson Sr. Middle School. So much so in fact, that they were recognized by the Florida Department of Agriculture with a Golden Shovel Award for having the best-revitalized garden in the state.
"When the school first opened, there was a butterfly garden in memory of David Hinson," said their teacher, Debbie Doster. "After 12 years, it went into disrepair. Kids who weren't mobile couldn't get out there. Gardening is such a wonderful teaching tool. Everyone should have access to it."
So this past year Doster, an exceptional student education teacher, took it upon herself to make a change. With the help of the school's staff and additional funding, a new wheelchair accessible garden was created. They have garden boxes for each student, a warm farm to make their fertilizer and even hydroponic plants to teach them how to grow things without soil.
"I like planting things and seeing if it will all grow," Smalls said. "My favorite is the eggplant. It comes from a little flower."