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Stony Brook Youth Create “Community Gathering Garden” During Spring Break

By Ryan Barton, Stony Brook Resident Services Manager

StonyBrook Garden

While most Fairfax County School students took it easy the first day of their Spring Break, 21 Stony Brook youth spent the day getting their hands dirty.  After a town hall meeting with residents in March discussing possible outdoor meeting spaces, Stony Brook youth took the first big step towards an outdoor meeting space by revitalizing a little-used plot of land in the community park.

For years, a large portion of the community’s park was taken up by a large, circular plot of dirt.  When it rained, the pit became a mud pit.  In spring and summer, it became a haven for weeds.  But three previously installed benches and plenty of space to get creative with, made it a perfect space to kick-off a revitalization project.

Teen volunteer team leaders led groups of elementary-aged youth in various tasks, with each team differentiated by colored bandanas.  The project started with a safety overview and a Landscaping 101 crash course.  After clearing the space and turning the top soil over, the teams got to digging and soon found a not-so-pleasant surprise.

“Rocks!” exclaimed fifth grader Ibrar Ahmed.  “As soon as we started digging, we found lots of stones, rocks, and bricks.  It made digging very hard.”

Despite this set-back, the group pushed on, successfully planting nearly 25 bushes and flowers of various sizes.  Another team created a stone path on either side of the circle, so that residents could walk through the garden’s colorful offerings.  Third grader Abdul Rahman said the path was his favorite part of the project.

“I had fun planting things,” said Rahman.  “But, the coolest thing is that we can walk through it.”

After nearly six hours of work, the teams finished off the “Community Gathering Garden” with a new layer of mulch.  The end result has already begun attracting residents to the space, and further additions are planned for the future.

Teen leader Burhan Ahmed found the project a rewarding experience.

“It’s good to see how we can make a difference during breaks,” Ahmed said.  “Now there is a place people can sit and enjoy.”

Muhammed Malik, another teen leader, said that while the digging was incredibly hard, “time, patience, and endurance paid off in the end, which I think was a good experience for everyone, especially the younger kids.”


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