A group of RSU13 middle and high school students kicked off a project Feb. 6 at The Landing Place, 61 Park St., Rockland. Herring Gut Learning Center and The Landing Place have teamed up to provide a small group of students a “first work” opportunity to design, build and plant garden beds for the benefit of The Landing Place. For several years, Herring Gut has provided summertime first work opportunities in aquaponics and gardening. This year the Clowes Foundation offered grant money for a school year first work program. Herring Gut approached the Landing Place with this idea late last summer, and by the beginning of October Holly Merrow, the project leader from Herring Gut, began receiving applications and holding interviews for the positions.

Most of the crew began work in December, with the remaining crew hired at the end of January. The project began with a trip to the hardware store, where students learned about the different materials and tools needed to build raised garden beds. So far, the garden and individual beds have been designed. The students have created a master materials list, ordered seeds and put together a preliminary budget for the program. The next steps will be for the students to work on getting donated materials and funds to make the project happen. Building is anticipated to begin in the middle of April. Produce from the gardens will go to benefit youth who attend The Landing Place and the Knox County Homeless Coalition. The Landing Place feeds dinner to between 20 and 30 children on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

At the Feb. 6 event, the students showcased their designs for this project and parents and volunteers were given the opportunity to see what has been done so far and what is coming up.

For more information, contact Merrow at Herring Gut Learning Center, 59 Factory Road, Port Clyde, ME 04855, 372-8677.or hmerrow@herringgut.org.