Home Valley STUwards: Stuart Hall students to aid pollinators with garden in downtown Staunton
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Valley STUwards: Stuart Hall students to aid pollinators with garden in downtown Staunton

monarch butterfly on purple butterfly bush garden
(© Eric – stock.adobe.com)

April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes. But what helps the flowers and other plants continue to grow, season after season, is pollinators.

The insects that pollinate plants, such as butterflies and bees, play a crucial role in Mother Nature’s circle of life. But their population is declining dramatically around the world. One main cause is the shrinking habitat the creatures need as development replaces spaces for plants to grow.
Stuart Hall School is doing something to help by spearheading the creation of a new pollinator garden in downtown Staunton. A project driven by Stuart Hall students, the garden will take root behind the school’s Eastham Center on West Beverley Street.
A groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, April 16, will officially kick off the project, as teenagers begin to transform the gravel plot that runs the width of the Eastham Center by placing compost and wood chips and then planting wildflowers. More plantings will follow as the weather warms and the compost improves the soil quality.
Beautifying the 1,000-square-foot piece of land is the vision of a new student group at Stuart Hall called Valley STUwards, which gathers several times a week to explore and learn more about the region.
Stuart Hall has a significant boarding population, drawing students from around the world. The school also extends considerable effort to bridge the campus community and the town community. The Valley STUwards co-curricular program, for instance, helps teenagers learn more about Staunton and its surroundings.
As students develop a “sense of place,” faculty adviser Catherine Badalamenti said they become connected and, ultimately, invested in the region’s thriving. A logical extension of the journey is the service project of creating a pollinator garden.
Stuart Hall connected with several neighbors who own local businesses for the project: Jason LaRose, the owner of Queen City Silviculture; Wendy Meyer, the owner of Working Nature and a landscape architect; Eric Walter, the owner of Black Bear Composting; and Johan Westenburg, the owner of Art in Motion. Their expertise and contributions are invaluable to the garden’s success.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.