501 3c Organization

Riverwood Community Garden Project Selected for Fulton County Citizens Commission on the Environment Award

What was once an expanse of Bermuda grass serving little purpose is now an award-winning garden at Riverwood International Charter School. Selected as the District 3 winner of the Fulton County Citizens Commission on the Environment (FCCCE) award, the garden features a biodiverse wonderland of raised beds, herbs and annuals, vegetable plants, and fruit trees. The garden serves as an outdoor educational space for all students and was the innovative idea of three Riverwood teachers: Patti Lawrimore, Elissa Oliver, and Issac Seals. 

The award is presented by the FCCCE,a citizen environmental advisory group appointed by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. The purpose of the FCCCE is to investigate environmental concerns; to make recommendations on environmental policies; and to increase public awareness, understanding, and involvement concerning environmental issues. Awards are given to those that have excelled at improving the environment within Fulton County. 

Teacher Issac Seals has been a part of the Riverwood garden project for over 15 years.  Due to the construction of new facilities at Riverwood, the previous outdoor garden closed in 2015. Seals and his IB Environmental Science students wrote and submitted the proposal and budget for a new garden. With support from the Riverwood Foundation and grants from both the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program and the Whole Kids Foundation by Whole Foods, the new, advanced garden space broke ground in May 2018. 

Patti Lawrimore, Science Department Chair, said, “The garden project is the consummate opportunity to bring a diverse group of students together to learn important STEM lessons with real-world applications, while also benefiting the school and greater Sandy Springs community.  We are grateful to receive recognition for this project.” 

Culinary Arts Chef Elissa Oliver adds, “The garden is an amazing opportunity for students to understand where their food comes from and how to prepare it in a healthy and tasty manner. We are so lucky to have the support of our community as we venture into collaborative and inquiry-based education.”  

Seals, Lawrimore, and Oliver worked together in conjunction with the Riverwood Foundation to seek additional funding to sustain and expand the garden, and in 2019, the Fiskars Project Orange Thumb and Scott’s Gro More Good Grassroots grants were awarded to provide further funds and supplies for the garden. The long-term vision for the outdoor garden and classroom include retaining walls, a composting area, an improved irrigation system, a walking path, and areas for small group discussions and collaboration. 

The FCCCE awards breakfast took place on October 16 at the Fulton County Government Center in Atlanta.  

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