Last Friday, sawdust filled the air as Cortez students from the eighth-grade Advance Industrial Technology worked to finish rough-hewn benches for a garden expansion project.
The students and community volunteers started construction on a campus shed near the tennis courts.
The 21 students spent all day working on the benches and the shed they designed with volunteers from Home Depot under the direction of Brett LeCompte, a contractor from Swallows Nest Natural Building.
Instead of building a model structure as the they normally would, the students learned about all the aspects of building a real shed from possible foundations to different fasteners, said their teacher Keri Mustoe. Before the construction the students dug the holes for the foundation.
“The kids have been awesome. They have been focused,” said Stacy Armbruster the Cortez Middle School AmeriCorps garden coordinator.
The 12-by-16-foot shed will hold all the tools and materials needed by the school garden expansion, which will include a half-acre of ground dedicated to large-scale production.
The school garden started at the middle school in the fall and the shed is part of an expansion that could include an orchard and a greenhouse.
The Colorado Health Foundation gave the Montezuma School to Farm Project almost $53,000 on March 1 to hire a garden coordinator and to plant the half acre and the goal is to grow 4,000 pounds of produce in the first year.
The garden will be managed by the newly hired garden coordinator over the summer.
The aim is to grow enough produce to sell at a farmers market to help the garden to become self-sustaining.
Home Depot, Lonnies Glass shop and many other local businesses donated materials to the project.