University of South Florida

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The Garden Club groundbreaking and planting vent at the Patel High School




The Dr. Kiran C. Patel High School (PHS) is considered the #1 Charter High School in Hillsborough County in 2023. PHS has an emphasis on Project-Based Learning and is committed to implementing a comprehensive framework for 21st century education that focuses on the skills, knowledge, and expertise students must master to succeed in work and life. One of the project-based goals of the high school was to establish a school garden on the property to educate students about gardening and food production and grow fruits and vegetables locally for consumption and sales. Dr. Joseph Dorsey, Director of the Food Sustainability and Security concentration in the Patel College of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida, has had an ongoing collaborative relationship with the PHS principal and science teachers to make the school garden idea a reality. Dr. Dorsey has had three graduate students from his Sustainable Food Production course volunteer their time and expertise to assist the Patel High School in the development of a School Garden Project over the past few years. Recently, PHS has formed a Garden Club with about 27 members to work on developing the garden. Members of the USF student organization GLOBE have gotten involved to help the high schoolers develop their ideas and plans for the gardening project. To support this effort, school administration gave permission to plant on an agreed upon site on campus, 3 garden raised beds were donated by a local business, and there were monetary donations for plants and soil from parents. On February 8th, Dr. Dorsey attended the planting ceremony where, project leader, PHS Honors Environmental Science Facilitator, Sunali Patel, M.S.Ed., other teachers, and a dozen PHS students participated in positioning the raised beads, dumping the soil, and planting vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Dr. Dorsey is grateful and proud of this collaboration as he states, “I have said many times in and out of class, the Patel High School is a sibling institution to the Patel College and should have some academic and applied science connection with the school to mutually support Dr. Patel's high academic standards, sustainability vision, and humanitarian mission. This high school garden is a manifestation of our collective synergy.”

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