Extra Credit: Douglas Garden

By Kym Clark - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Douglas High School Garden Club is a program started just this past school year by now-retired English teacher, Deloris Briggs.

"Our motto here at Douglas is 'Coming home to give back'," Briggs explained. "And I tried to figure out what I can do that would be a lasting legacy. I had no idea it would be as pretty as it is."

"I think one of the most fun things to do is just kinda sit back watch it grow ... watch all of our hard work, kinda like, blossom into one big community garden," said Garden Club President and senior Jazzmine Grandberry. "It turned out better than any of us expected."

The garden is named after Eleanor Roosevelt who, as then First Lady, visited the Douglas community back in 1937 after hearing about the self sufficient black community.

"There were over 800 families and over 600 gardens in backyards. These people who lived in Douglas canned their produce and they brought it back to the school - one in every 6 cans was brought back to feed the school children," says Briggs, adding that she believes those depression-era gardens might have been the impetus for the World War II Victory Gardens.

This time the school children are providing the garden and the food to the community, inviting people to take vegetables and herbs from the garden. The students also hope the community will help out during the summer months with watering and weeding since many of the club members live far away.

For Douglas Garden Club members like Harry Bridges, the garden is a labor of love in many ways.

"None of this would be done without teamwork. The Pyramids wasn't (sic) built in a day and this garden wasn't either," he says. "This is more than my friends now. These are like my brothers and sisters. Theses are the kind of moments I ain't gonna forget in life."

Through a partnership with Rhodes College, the Douglas High Garden Club hopes to create more gardens throughout the community.  The second phase of the Garden Club includes teaching members how to preserve and can their bounty.

There are also plans for an outdoor classroom with concrete benches and tables so teachers can bring their students outside to enjoy the garden while doing their studies.

The Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Garden is also a link on the National Geographic Website.

If you have an Extra Credit idea, please send Kym Clark an email to: extracredit@wmctv.com.

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