Saturday, May 31, 2003

Kids get dirty in Granny's Garden

Gardener to gardener

By Peg St. Clair
Enquirer contributor

An extremely creative, innovative and resourceful woman, Roberta Paolo used all of her life skills and began to "bloom where she was planted." Today, her efforts are having an impact on Loveland, where she lives.

"This story is not about me," she says. "It is about how people come together and get things done."

"Granny's Garden School" is on the grounds of the Loveland Primary/Elementary Schools, 550 and 600 Loveland Madeira Road. Information: 683-3101; Web site or
Years ago, Paolo was at a low place financially and emotionally. She had gardened all her life, but now had to learn to grow all of her plants by seed instead of buying them.

Nevertheless, about nine years ago she began teaching her grandchildren what she calls the "etiquette of playing in the dirt." These gardening lessons extended to neighborhood children, then to workshops on gardening and woodworking for kids and their moms.

Paolo grew so many perennials and annuals that she advertised in a suburban newspaper, offering free plants.

Wondering what happened to flowers left at funeral homes, Paolo inquired and was offered some of those arrangements. She took them apart and made bouquets that she and her grandchildren delivered to nursing homes.

When Paolo picked up her grandchildren at school, she saw another woman digging near the school office. The two asked permission to begin gardening programs at the Loveland Primary School and Elementary School. She wanted all of the children to be able to pick their own flowers.

The project began in March 2002. Today, students garden during recess and gym class. Older students garden with younger ones. Janitors have made rooms in their closets for gardening tools. Firefighters helped them rototill the gardens. They had a 50-by-100-foot greenhouse donated. A goal is to have one volunteer gardener for every classroom.

Contact Peg St. Clair by phone: 541-4680; Web site.

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