Just before the pandemic struck the state in March 2020, students in Lynn Snow’s 2019-2020 fifth grade science classes were working on a project. They were saving used milk and juice cartons to repurpose for a national competition called “Carton 2 Garden.” The goal was to create something that was garden-related using these cartons.

The first step was to save milk and juice cartons. For three weeks, kids collected empty cartons from breakfast and lunch. With the help of kitchen staff and teachers, cartons were washed and dried. Eventually, more than 1400 cartons were saved.

After the collection was complete, kids and staff members brainstormed various ideas for projects. It was decided that a variety of projects would be attempted — bee hotels, hydroponic systems, woven baskets, planters, reflective shields and a giant milk carton to be used as a bottle redemption collection container.

The TGS garden has bottle redemption accounts at Andes, Touch or Glass and Wicked Redemption to help keep the garden running annually.

Initially, the "Carton 2 Garden" competition applications, photos and project videos were due April 1, 2020. Luckily, the kids and teachers at TGS finished before the school shutdown. But because of COVID-19, the organizers decided to extend the deadline to Dec. 1, 2020. The competition grew as more schools had time to enter their projects.

On Jan. 8, the competition results were announced with Thomaston Grammar School winning the Grand Prize, worth $5000. This prize includes a cash award, gift certificate and prize package.

At this time, discussions are being held as to how to best use this prize. One consideration is to have a public water line run to the school garden. Currently, the watering system at the garden is through a rainwater collection system.

This spring, an orchard will be planted adjacent to the garden, and a public water line close to the area is currently determined to be of worthwhile value.