Wanted: Gardeners to help preserve Enota school’s plants through two winters.
The Gainesville City School System has not posted an advertisement like that, but it could in the next few months.
A new school building is planned for the Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy site, and the construction work will destroy the school’s much-loved and prolific garden.
Wanda Creel, Gainesville superintendent, emphasized, “We want to make sure that the Enota garden ... is part of the replacement of the Enota school.”
She said the school system has met with groups to talk about how best to preserve as much of the garden as is feasible. She has met with the school faculty, the PTA and the school governance council.
Future meetings with interested community members are contemplated but not scheduled yet.
Creel, Principal Wesley Roach and Becky Pope, architect with Lindsay Pope Brayfield Clifford & Associates, emphasized the discussion of preserving parts of the garden is just beginning.
Construction is expected to begin early in 2017 after the school, and its students, are moved to the Centennial Arts Academy campus over the winter break this year.
The new facility will be two stories compared to a single story in the current building. Parking will be different, and more plentiful, with the new facility, Principal Wesley Roach said.
The footprint of the building has not been decided yet, Creel told the school board last week.
Creel noted that getting through two winters likely will be necessary before the new garden can be “populated” with plants. Preserving current plants will be a challenge, and one of the main questions to be resolved.
“We will have to select pieces of the garden that we can take out, transplant and plan to be able to put back in,” she said.
One part of the solution, Creel said, might be an “adopt a plant” program. Individuals might take a specific plant, move it to his or her home for two years and then replant it at the new school.
The school also might hold a large plant sale to raise money for new plants that could be part of the new garden.
The “Smartville” garden was a large project in 2008 after erosion created problems in front of the school.
With the help of the Fockele family and the Fockele Garden Co., the project turned about half-acre of space into the garden. Mark Fockele helped with the design and installation and Mildred Fockele remains the committee chair for the garden on the school’s PTA board.
Roach lauded the support from the Fockele family. “They’ve been very generous,” he said.
The North Georgia Community Foundation provided a $20,000 grant to help pay for the project.
The garden includes a series of water collection cisterns, above- and underground, and the 10-foot water tower with a drip-irrigation system; metal figures; ornamental and drought-resistant plants; and a path through the garden.
“We certainly want to preserve those pieces,” Creel said.
Just as the garden now connects to the school’s science lab, Creel said a similar arrangement is planned for the new facility. A door will lead outside from the lab, which will be on one end of the building with much of the garden just outside.
“It’s been a learning garden as well as a beautification for the school,” Creel noted.
“The plan all along has been to pull the sidewalks away from the building so we would have room to have a portion of the garden in front of the school,” Creel said.
In addition, the cafeteria will have most of one wall that is class and looks outside at a portion of the garden area.
Creel also said the school has “some beautiful pictures of the garden” that will be featured in the new building.
Roach said the school has “two really good things” as a result of the new building.
One is the continued support “from a community that loves and has invested in this school for many years,” and the second is the “opportunity to rejuvenate this campus.”
He added, “We want to do all that we can to preserve the heritage for which this school is known.”