The March Farmer of the Month is parent-volunteer superstar Melissa Maughon.
Melissa Maughon is the mother of three children, PTA member, and creator of the “Panther Patch”, a garden and outdoor classroom at Fairview Elementary. She volunteers at Fairview Elementary by maintaining the school garden and facilitating 3 garden flex classes every Friday. Her background is in Environmental Horticulture, which she studied at North Georgia Tech.
In January 2009, after being inspired by the Clarkesville Elementary school garden, Melissa and friend MaryBeth Hopkins began planning the Panther Patch for Fairview Elementary. Her mission and goal was to build a garden and create an outdoor classroom the teachers could incorporate into lesson plans. “I wanted to create a place of beauty and reflection and a natural laboratory of diversity including edible landscaping and wildlife habitats,” Maughon said.
Fairview Elementary volunteers broke ground for the Panther Patch on April 17, 2009. Over 20 tons of soil and compost was brought in and tilled into the garden site. The next day Fairview Elementary families came out to shape grow beds and paths. Classes planted seeds and flowers and the garden thrived.
For the past five years, Melissa has organized parent volunteers, students, and teachers for garden maintenance and activities. The garden is a beautiful space including raised beds, herb and flower gardens, a brick patio, arbors, a tool shed, a water catchment system, and more. Community volunteers, donations, and grants have helped the garden be so successful. Wilbanks Lumber and Wes Taylor made the garden arbors and tool shed possible. Joshua Jackson and Lowes made the patio possible. The Eagle Scouts
built their garden swing and information board.
“I have been inspired by the kids at school and comments like, ‘this is my favorite place in the whole school!’” said Maughon. “I love the idea of teaching kids where their food comes from, how to grow it, and then cook and enjoy it.”
Melissa, you are an inspiration, too!