Decatur Learning Garden Dedication Is April 19

Contact: Rebecca Rakoczy
Phone: 678-891-2691
Fax: 678-891-2966
Author: Rebecca Rakoczy

For Immediate Release

How can planting a garden relate to an English class? For Georgia Perimeter College students in Dr. Tyrie Smith and Dr. Scott Mitchell’s English 1101 classes, the simple act of growing seedlings has translated into a rich writing experience.

Smith’s students started the semester off learning how to till the soil and plant seedlings at Lyon Farm in Lithonia, during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, then wrote reflections about their adventures using a rotor-tiller, planting garlic, and eating fresh carrots pulled from the ground.

Mitchell’s students began the semester by reflecting on their attitudes about nature and their understanding of sustainability issues. Both instructors used the college greenhouse as a way to inspire their students to write about their own experiences as they learned about urban gardening.

For English student Brandon Brantley, who planted tomato seedlings grown in the greenhouse, the community garden project reminded him of his grandfather’s farm in Alabama. “My granddaddy grew corn, tomato, collard greens, apples, figs and plums on his farm,” Brantley said. Brantley’s experience was unique however—most students had never gardened. Their writing reflected their discoveries.

Both faculty members say engaging students in helping plan—and plant—the garden adds to their understanding of the writing process, as students research sustainability issues, and then reflect upon their own experience as “urban gardeners. “It’s important to write about your own experiences, and

it’s part of the learning process to write and reflect on those experiences,” says Mitchell. To keep their project “green,” Smith’s students submitted all their assignments electronically.

Both classes helped plant more than 1,600 seeds in the Decatur Campus greenhouse, including heirloom tomato, eggplant, peppers, and huckleberry bushes, as well as a host of herbs. Recently, the classes planted more than 100 of those seedlings in the Decatur campus learning garden. The garden will be maintained by both Mitchell and Smith’s students, and other GPC students, faculty and staff.

The large community learning garden will be officially dedicated by GPC President Dr. Anthony Tricoli on Thursday, April 19, at 12 p.m., and staff, faculty and students can plant their own seeds—and take their own heirloom tomato plant to grow at home. For more information about GPC’s sustainability efforts and the community learning gardens, go to or go to the GPC Sustainability Facebook page at