The Garden at LaPerche

By Joe Siegel

Students at R. C. LaPerche Elementary School will soon be getting an education about the art of gardening.

Jim Cogswell, who works as a money manager and realtor, approached the school administration about planting a garden. The first planting will begin in the spring. Cogswell said they would start with cold-weather crops such as green peas, carrots, and radishes.

“I’ve always wanted to secretly become a farmer,” Cogswell explained. “I approached the Principal (Julie Dorsey) to see if they had any kind of garden program going forward and she said they tried a few times but they didn’t have much follow-through.”

The school had some raised beds which Cogswell noticed hadn’t gotten much use.

“It was something where I was hoping to come in, really give some time, and have (the students) understand a little bit more about gardening,” Cogswell said. “What we’re trying to do is show them where their food comes from. Let them discover what it’s like to have to take care of a garden and watch something grow.”

Every grade level will be participating in the program, even the school’s special needs classes. The students will be responsible for maintaining their own raised beds.

Cogswell hopes that when the students complete the school year next June, they can turn it into a “viable garden that actually grows more expensive crops like cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.” The food will be donated to needy families and to visitors at the Smithfield senior center.

The 14 raised beds were completed on November 2. All the materials were donated from local businesses and individuals including Blackbird Farms, State Senator Steve Archambault, D-Smithfield, Stillwater Investments LLC, Semper Home Loans,

Blackie’s Restaurant, Breezy Knoll Daycare, Nu look Sealcoating, Junk N More, The Smithfield Times, Atwill-Conroy DDS, Jim Fontaine CPA, Hometech improvements, and Seascape Landscaping.