The Bower Hill Garden is located next to the Bus Entrance on Bower Hill Road

2016 Updates
Volunteer OpportunitiesSign up for a week of watering and mowing through Sept.
Contact Joy Braden for more
August News

The Friends of the Bower Hill Garden would like to thank the following volunteers and their families for taking care of the garden this past summer:

Brittany Tate, Karen Lingis, Amy McMullin, Jennifer Hrabik, Melanie Hurd, Laura Roberts, Chelsea Johnston, Kateryna Zhykharska, Gwen Vizza, Jessica Scott, Kristen Seaman, Michelle Chenevert, Kim and Kole Martin


July News

Visit us at the Peters Township Farmer's Market on July 20 from 3-4pm!


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June News
Vegetables are starting to grow, and creatures are visiting!



Dr. Hobbs' class weeded beds, planted vegetable seeds, and picked strawberries

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May News

The Friends of the Bower Hill Garden would like to thank the following families for their time and effort on Clean Up Weekend:

Joy Braden and her family Clay, Chloe, and Lucy Hollingsworth
Rhonda and Phil Becker for donating the mushroom manure
Raina Rippel, Riley and Kent, and Brandon Hudock for his horticulture advice
Melissa and Erik Beringer, and son Brandon for mowing and trimming
Laura Daugherty and her family Richard Roberts, Natalie, and Caroline
Laura and Mike Hutchinson and family
Mr. and Mrs. Troscinski for rototilling the raised beds



April News
Spring flowers are blooming!



The weekend of April 22-24 is clean up weekend. We are having a load of mushroom manured delivered Aprill 22 and need help spreading the material in the raised beds and the flower garden. If you can help, bring your shovel and wheel barrow if you have one, and stop by any time from 1:30 - 4:00 PM. Weeding is always appreciated too.

The bluebirds have returned to their nesting box

Mary, Mary

Quite contrary

How does your garden grow...

1. We grow to give. While collecting canned goods in our school district in the late winter of 2010, Angie Phares, parent to 2 Bower Hill students asked a simple question: “Wouldn’t it be better if we could give fresh, nutritious foods to those in need rather than canned goods?” This simple question led Joe Bratetich, Bower Hill teacher, to work with Angie to examine how we could do better by others in our community right on the school grounds.


We grow to learn. An outdoor garden is a great way to teach students primary school science objectives as they relate to living things. Already, our garden is fostering relationships with authentic gardening “knowledge keepers” who can benefit our students with experiential learning in a real-world place – right at our school! Our art teachers are using the garden for student art work, classroom teachers are taking students for walks through the garden, and many kids have had fun finding insects among our plants as well. In the late fall of 2010, 5 local master gardeners participated in a "Plant Day" celebration with the 192 third graders at Bower Hill.


3. We grow to be self-sustainable. Sustainability is important in so many ways, and it is an important skill to teach our youth. We wanted to collect our own rain water, make our own compost, and teach students and community members to care for a garden independent of the school maintenance department, while figuring out ways to raise our own monies to sustain our garden. A composting program is beginning this fall with third grade students.


4. We grow to beautify. The layout of our garden emphasizes an external, pragmatic beauty that encloses the more practical foodstuffs that grow within a fenced-in area. Flowers, flowering herbs, cornstalks, onions and garlic decorate and protect the interior in an appealing way. The beauty we’ve fostered has energized others to improve the school grounds. An "outdoor classroom" has been added adjacent to the garden and will feature native plants and flowers to add to the beauty of the area. Blueberry, Highbush Cranberry (Vibernum), Ninebark and native holly were planted to develop a hedgerow that shelters a teaching area nearby to our vegetable garden.


5. We grow to build community. Our garden is a purposeful experiment in community involvement. In less than 6 months of existence, we have built relationships with local gardeners, garden clubs, a master gardener program, the local Meals on Wheels, and with school families who were looking for ways to be more involved with our school. Since 2010 was our first harvest, we have made opportunities available to all classroom teachers for harvesting and clean-up, and about half of our students have been out in the garden so far. We will continue this harvest through the fall. While our garden programs are just beginning in 2010, we knew we needed to be innovative in finding ways to extend the growing season in our Western Pennsylvania climate. We have built raised beds and are currently using season-extending canopies to grow lettuces, spinach, radishes, carrots and other greens. These beds will need to be raised further so that we can use other season extending ideas that keep our beds warm for growing in early spring and late fall.


Third grade students have recently been trained to divide their lunch waste for a compost program, which will begin in October 2010. We plan to involve EVERY student in the growing of the 2011 garden plants. We have seeds granted us from the Seed Savers Exchange and every different “homeroom” in our school will grow a different variety of plant that will eventually be transplanted to our garden. Our leadership team will need to plan for ways to involve as much of the school as possible in transplanting and caring for our garden.
Furthermore, our outdoor garden/learning area did expand this fall in a collaborative with a local Eagle Scout candidate. This Scout broke ground on an “outdoor classroom” that will include native, flowering plants that bring pollinators closer to our garden, and will utilize a nearby growing oak that will one day make for a shady compliment to the garden for students, teachers, community members and volunteers.

Click below to learn how to Harvest Leafy Greens such as lettuce, kale and chard
Students click on BIG ARROW only.

How to Plant Seeds
Students click on BIG ARROW only.

Volunteer Opportunities
Sign up for a week of watering and mowing

Contact Cristi Parks for more