MDCPS

Where Are the Professional Gardeners?

A new school year has begun.  Kids, parents, teachers, and staff are all excited and focused on lots of different things to make the new school year awesome and fun, but recently, I learned of, what I believe, to be a really huge difficulty & problem in all of Dade County Public Schools. 

Most schools are located on fairly large sizes of land.  This means, that a good portion of the school grounds, are filled with plants : trees, shrubs, grasses, veggie & flower gardens.  It's great that the schools help add so much "greenscape" to our beautiful city, but there's just one problem...there are no Professionally trained Gardeners or Landscapers to take care of all this vegetation, properly.

Properly is a key point here.  Lots of  people can take a hedge clipper or chainsaw and whack down a bush or cut off a tree limb, but it takes the knowledge, skills, and caring, in order to trim plants properly and keep them looking their most beautiful and being the healthiest they can be.

Currently, many schools require their Janitorial staff to not only complete their usual tasks, but to take care of the greenery around the school as well.  I think that not only is it completely unfair to heap a huge additional work load onto an employee who's job is to do something else, but also, I would guess that most are not trained in the art of Horticulture.  Yes, they can learn, but can you really expect them to have the time to learn and care when they are already swamped with a million other duties?!

I witnessed, firsthand, a school where plants were badly damaged from poor pruning, weeds were growing rampant, and invasive species were everywhere and threatening to take over and kill many native and/or more desirable plants.  There have been instances in other schools where large shade trees were too severely cut, leaving kids and teachers with no shade while playing outside.  And, other times where a well-known harmful weed killer "Round Up" was over-used and sprayed near vegetable plants!

Schools are notoriously underfunded and understaffed.  It is difficult to argue the case that the plants on the properties need better attention and care, when it is tough for the teachers to receive all the supplies that they need to do their jobs to their highest ability.

But, I believe that adding more funding to have trained landscapers or a full-time gardener position for each school, would add tremendous benefit to everyone.  The schools would become even more beautiful and safer (ex. a poorly trimmed large tree can be extremely dangerous, especially if it has breaking (sick) branches that hang over where people are located).

It basically comes down to, what is important to us?  What do we hold in high value and will we demand change to get our needs met?

Everyday, we are surrounded by nature.  It guides our habits, patterns, food needs, shelters, and quality of our lives, both mentally and physically.  

On a really positive note, there are many parents and volunteers who are recognizing what an important issue this is, and beginning to take matters into their owns hands as they volunteer and reach out to professionals with more knowledge, who can help and educate.  Vegetable gardens are becoming more common in schools and people seems to be loving mother nature and appreciating her beauty as times begin to change.

I just wanted to bring this issue into more of a spotlight, since I had know idea myself that it was a problem until recently.

What do you think the city can do to help?  Any ideas?  I'd love to hear them and share them with other readers :)

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