The groundwork, including drainage and irrigation, has been laid for the new Smartville Garden at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy in Gainesville.
Now, officials with Gainesville City Schools, along with community supporters, are launching a $50,000 fundraising campaign to build out the garden.
“Our goal is to raise some funds for picnic tables, benches, planter beds and ongoing maintenance,” said Ryan Thompson, a member of the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board who chairs a committee that has overseen the design and initial construction of the garden.
These additions are meant to support group learning through instructional, outdoor dining areas for students and parents; as well as opportunities for students to learn to grow and harvest what they eat.
Resurrecting the historic school garden has been a priority since the original Enota elementary was demolished and rebuilt.
The $19 million, state-of-the-art school reopened this fall.
Preparing the site for a garden, including laying out the design, placing sod and planting some trees, has the project still on schedule to be completed this spring despite some challenges over the last month resulting from cold and wet weather conditions.
And, weather permitting, concrete should soon be poured for two outdoor basketball courts that are included in the project, according to Adrian Niles, chief operations officer for Gainesville City Schools.
Playground equipment is also being installed.
“The infrastructure, I think, was the hardest part to get done,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot of work that’s gone on that you can’t even tell.”
The garden will retain some of the traditional aspects of the original Smartville, such as the water tower. And plants that were harvested from the former site and nourished elsewhere while the new school was constructed will be brought back.
Thompson said that 10 percent of the $50,000 fundraising goal had already been met and that he’s confident the remainder will come.
“We’ve got a pretty good plan in place for that,” he added.