Plots to Plates: Organic community garden provides food for the community and a unique learning experience for Carmel students

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Orchard Park Elementary students Yanet Alemu and Kate Gentry study chive blossoms in one of the garden plots. (Photo by Sara Baldwin)

By Sara Baldwin

Six and a half years ago, Carmel Clay School District made the decision to repurpose vacant land behind Carmel Middle School into a large community garden, as a way of giving back to the community. The CCS Green Team, a parent-led organization to help standardize sustainability initiatives district-wide, helped bring this outdoor vision to life through volunteer work and student involvement.

After a year of amending the soil quality to bring it to organic standards, they began renting 4×15 plots to community members. Now in their fifth growing season, the Plots to Plates Organic Community Garden has 98 community member plots, as well as 320 square-feet dedicated to growing produce for CMS school lunches, and four plots dedicated to local food pantries. Plot holders are encouraged to donate excess produce to food pantries as well.

The Community Garden also hosts field trips from surrounding CCS schools. On May 10, third graders from Orchard Park Elementary learned about nature and gardening by exploring different aspects the Community Garden as well as the Odom Woods Outdoor Laboratory.

For more or to apply for a plot, visit