A single seed of inspiration was all it took for a partnership between Lime Street Elementary and Orchard Supply Hardware to blossom into something beautiful. Earlier this year, Lime Street Principal Kathy Miller and several teachers approached the home improvement store's manager, Steve Rados, about donating supplies to build a garden on the school's site.


According to Rados, he didn't hesitate to say yes to what he perceived would benefit area students and their families long into the future. The project, Neighbors Helping Neighbors Grow Gardens, also would serve to make a difference in the community, which is part of his company's mission.


Rados believes Orchard's philanthropic aim is the underlying reason for its on-going growth and expansion.


"Orchard requires all of its stores to give back to the community," said Rados. "I could see that helping Lime Street Elementary's program get off the ground would mean that we would be able to reach a great number of people for years to come.


"Beyond that, our location is very close to the school and many of the kids' parents shop here, which also motivated me to want to help. The program only recently started but has already made a significant impact."


For the past few months, students and teachers at Lime Street Elementary have been hard at work preparing 4-foot by 8-foot flower boxes near the school's bus circle for planting everything from fruit trees and vegetables to herbs and spices.


Miller says along with donating 100 percent of all of the gardening supplies, Orchard also sent out a team of nursery specialists to teach students the basics.


"The nursery team taught our kids about things like what a good, rich soil looks like, as well as the importance of watering," said Miller. "Everyone just loved it and many of them have gotten so interested in the garden, they are now spending their recess time working in it. It's pretty amazing."


Miller estimates all of the flower boxes will be completed in August just before the fall school session begins in September. She says each grade will have its own box and collectively the students will decide what they would like to grow.


Additionally, everything that is grown in the garden will be given to students to take home and share with their families and neighbors.


In the future, Lime Street Elementary plans to create a curriculum to include various aspects of gardening, which Miller believes is a vital part of grade school education.


"You never know how many kids in this program will be inspired toward a career in agriculture," said Miller. "And that's a very important field so we are excited to be a part of helping students develop a passion for it."