Tara Svendsen, Danielle Rios-Roberts, and Lauren Freedman were Cheshire Academy eighth graders two years ago. On Friday, the three students rolled up their sleeves along with faculty members and volunteers from the New Haven Garden Club.
Their mission: dig up a dozen elm tree saplings for transport to the Pardee Rose Garden in New Haven from a sunny spot outside the Middle School art classroom.
“We have to dig them up?” said Svendsen. “It’s too hot to do manual labor.”
She and her classmates received academic credit for their participation in the project. Two years ago, students in the Middle School received 14 Jefferson American elm saplings. Jefferson American elms are a Dutch elm disease resistant variety, chosen in light of Connecticut's history with the arbor ailment.
The students planted the trees with the goal to donate them to community groups once they reached maturity.
“They actually fostered and nurtured them from infancy,” said Carrie Moores, marketing and social media manager at Cheshire Academy.
Over time, the trees had grown thick roots, ripping right through the plastic potters. Julie Anderson, Middle School teacher, fetched a saw to remove the plants. Despite being less than enthusiastic about digging and sawing, the students learned from the experience.
“It’s really hard to make something from nothing,” said Freedman.
“It’s really more about community service,” said Rios-Roberts. “They were six inches tall, like little twigs, now they’re huge.”
Deborah Moore of Woodbridge is a member of the New Haven Garden Club. She said there is a specially-designed pit where the trees will be grown without further replanting.
“This won’t happen to them again,” said Moore.