It takes tools to work a garden, to keep it healthy and vibrant, and today Ridgedale Alternative School has a garden but no tools.
Last Thursday night someone climbed a fence and tore off the door of the wooden shed (that is right next to the school building). Principal Diana Gossett said the thief or thieves stole all of their gardening tools – shovels, hand tillers, rakes – everything. “The only thing they didn’t steal was our wheelbarrow and I think that’s because they couldn’t get it over the fence.”
This special school off Oak Ridge Highway has students from all over Knox County – its ground-floor is a school for at-risk middle school students and its upper level is a K-12 school for students with developmental disabilities. It has no PTA or PTSO for support.
Last year the school was awarded a grant for approximately $8,000 from the Great Schools Partnership to build what is now its new community gardens where the kids work with the staff to grow vegetables and other garden goodies as part of their school experience.
In a very short time the community gardens have become a very big part of the school’s identity.
There is a post on the school’s Facebook page from a former Ridgedale teacher, Miller Toon Foutch, about the incident. She writes, in part:
“I awoke to the news this morning (Oct. 27) that someone climbed the fence and stole all the gardening tools from the Ridgedale Garden. While I may not teach at Ridgedale any more, this news breaks my heart.
“We worked hard to secure this grant, and the students worked hard to build this garden piece by piece last year. They continue to gain both vocational and social skills by working in and maintaining the garden.
“Ridgedale is a public school here in Knox County that serves students with at-risk behavior and/or disabilities. The population is transient in that the staff and students work hard to transition back to their home schools.
Therefore, they don’t have (a parent group) to help in times like these. I don’t ask for much on social media, but if you can, please consider helping me with donations of gift cards to Home Depot. The school has an account there and the students can shop and purchase new gardening tools as part of their daily curriculum. Y’all, I can’t get angry – we just have to make this right.”
If you’d like to donate money to help replace the tools, please call principal Diana Gossett at the school – 865-909-9099.