Rain garden will pull double duty at Mt. Hope High

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 6/8/18

One recent day, possibly the hottest of the spring to date, an intrepid crew of students and faculty joined with community members Shannon Rozea and Sara Churgin, to dig a garden. 

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Rain garden will pull double duty at Mt. Hope High


One recent day, possibly the hottest of the spring to date, an intrepid crew of students and faculty joined with community members Shannon Rozea and Sara Churgin, to dig a garden. 

It’s not just any garden, either. It’s a rain garden, designed to divert water to moisture-loving pollinator plants in the center of Mt. Hope High School’s campus. The campus is located on the Silver Creek watershed — the creek is actually visible in several locations across the property — so water control is an ongoing issue.

Also an issue, and one that the work crew only discovered after several hours of hacking away in the hot sun, is that there is rock where they want their garden to go. A lot of rock. But after hanging up their shovels for the day, they came back later (and called in reinforcements) and got the job done.

The garden is a joint endeavor by the Eastern R.I. Conservation District, a non-profit, quasi-public organization that functions as a facilitator for meeting the needs of the local land user in the conservation of soil, water and other related natural resources, and Thrive Outside, a local non-profit founded by Bristol resident and landscape architect Shannon Rozea.

It was made possible by a Roger Williams University grant and a legislative grant secured by Rep. Susan Donovan.

Project coordinator Ms. Churgin met Ms. Rozea, and “roped her in” to a similar project, creating raised beds for plantings at the Melville School in Portsmouth. “The idea here at Mt. Hope was to bring in a garden that will soak up rain, but at the same time be low maintenance,” said Ms. Churgin.

Since January, Ms. Rozea has been working with students and art and science faculty at Mt. Hope, selecting plants, discussing the importance of pollinators and the environmental impact of rain gardens, and drawing up plans.

Thrive Outside was born from Ms. Rozea’s experience of looking out from the front steps of Guiteras School, where her children attended. She thought it was an amazing landscape for outdoor learning, but there was one glaring problem: the children were rarely taken outside to enjoy and learn from this landscape, and when they did go outside for recess, they played on asphalt surrounded by a chain link fence. 

Ms. Rozea teamed up with other like-minded parents, and today there is an outdoor learning environment at Guiteras called the Discovery Garden, and the teachers often take their students outside for learning in all subjects.  

Ms. Rozea decided to take that initiative to a wider audience, and created Thrive Outside to help nurture environmentally literate earth enthusiasts through the implementation of dynamic, outdoor learning environments, teacher practices, curriculum enhancements, nature play, and programs in schools and organizations that work with young people.

Thrive Outside partners with a school or organization to initiate, create and sustain outdoor learning environments, teacher practices and programs. 

The group’s first fundraising event, The Amazing Adventure at Blithewold with Thrive Outside, is scheduled for this Sunday, June 10, from noon to 3 p.m. at Blithewold, where participants hunt for clues and move through a series of stations that present different intellectual and physical obstacles. This will be a fun and fund-raising “field day” for all ages, complete with food trucks, music, raffles, picnicking and more. Register to attend at www.thriveoutside.info.

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