Kingston's Wolfle Elementary garden receives a crafty present

The beautiful arbor, built by Boy Scout Troop 555, is an inviting entrance into the garden at Wolfle Elementary. - Tara Lemm/Staff photo
The beautiful arbor, built by Boy Scout Troop 555, is an inviting entrance into the garden at Wolfle Elementary.
— image credit: Tara Lemm/Staff photo

KINGSTON — The garden at Wolfle Elementary sure looks inviting, especially after a little creative woodworking from Boy Scout Troop 555.

On what was easily the hottest day of the year, Aug. 16, Troop 555 — the Three Nickels — got down and dirty and a little sweaty from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., as they turned a misshapen pile of wood into a beautiful arbor.

The following Tuesday, the group of 13 boys, ranging in age from 6 to high school age, formed the wood, brought the structure to Wolfle and installed it at the east entrance to the garden.

It stands nearly 7 feet tall and looks like a piece of art worth several hundred dollars found at a top-notch nursery. It even has three nickels adhered to one of the three top arches.

“I couldn’t believe that young boys could do that. I’m still dumbfounded. It’s amazing,” said Wolfle first-grade teacher Maria Steinbeisser, who spearheaded the garden project at Wolfle and wanted an arbor for an entrance. “It’s more than a piece of art, it’s stunning. It was a great way to start the new year with the great piece the kids made.”

Steinbeisser said every garden needs an entrance and the arbor will serve as an invitation into Wolfle’s garden.

Assistant Cub Master Shannon Coddington organized the actual construction efforts at his home shop. The boys moved from station to station shaping and sanding various pieces of wood until their vision was complete.

“They used all kinds of really cool equipment, it was a lot of fun,” said troop mom Kari Rambough whose sons Jackson, 6, and Reed, 7, helped with the project. “The kids really stepped up to the plate and were really safe. They did a great job.”

In addition to witnessing how a pile of lumber can be shaped and formed to perfection, the woodworking endeavor also alloted the troop an opportunity to earn their woodworking badge, one of nearly 50 badges Boy Scouts can earn. At the end of September Troop 555 will attend the Court of Honor to receive their woodworking badges.

Wolfle’s garden first came to fruition during last school year. Now it’s vibrant with numerous plants. There’s a handmade stepping stone section, a sand play area, a child-sized picnic table and eight raised beds, all which overflow with herbs, flowers and veggies. There’s bird houses, and mason bees. Over the summer pumpkins grew quite large and broccoli is currently thriving to maturity.

“When I saw it I couldn’t believe how everything had grown, it’s taller than most of the kids,” Stenibeisser said. “I just thought it was magical.”

She envisions a tunnel with grapes and a variety vegetation to mark the garden’s other entrance. She’d like to have a sunflower house, more vegetables and a sign for the garden.

The peaceful and inviting space will also serve as a curriculum offering for all grade levels at Wolfle, as nearly every grade has a bed of its own. The fourth-graders have a native plant bed. Kindergartners are learning about ladybugs, have a ladybug bed with flowers and raise the ladies in the classroom. Second-graders devote their bed to butterflies. The fifth-graders want to start a worm composting project with leftovers from lunchtime to learn about waste and how compost is good soil for the garden. Steinbeisser plans to do measuring of the plants and also grow plants in her classroom so her students can watch and learn about science.

“We’re working on the curriculum part of it,” Steinbeisser said. “It’s a work in progress, just like the garden.”

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