Thomaston Grammar School’s fifth grade Outdoor Classroom wins national competition, big prize

Wed, 01/13/2021 - 6:45pm

The Thomaston Grammar School Fifth Grade Common Ground Garden and Outdoor Classroom has won a national competition, taking the grand prize with a package of $5,000.

Evergreen Packaging and announced the winners of the 2020 Carton 2 Garden award, placing Thomaston Grammar School in first place.

The competition challenges students and their teachers to repurpose a minimum of 100 milk and juice cartons into garden related projects. The competition fosters environmental stewardship, recycling, and repurposing.

The Carton 2 Garden competition is in its sixth year.

Eslie J. Parquette School at Sweetser, located in Saco, won a ‘grade-level winner’ prize worth $,1000 in the 2020 competition. Other winners represented schools across the nation including California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, West Virginia and more.

Just prior to local schools transferring to virtual learning in March 2020, students in Lynn Snow’s fifth grade science classes were working on this project.  They saved used milk and juice cartons for several weeks and began brainstorming how to repurpose them in a way that would benefit their school garden.

With over 1,000 cartons collected, the work began. It was decided that a variety of projects would be created – bee hotels, hydroponic systems, woven baskets, planters, reflective shields, and even a giant milk carton that would be used as a bottle redemption collection container.

The TGS garden has bottle redemption accounts at Ande’s in Warren, Touch or Glass in Thomaston, and Wicked Redemption in Rockland to help keep the garden up and running year after year.

The giant milk carton is housed at TGS and all proceeds are used to for the garden or the related ‘cooking in the classroom’ curriculum.

Luckily, Snow and her students completed their Carton 2 Garden competition projects before schools shut down in March.  With several cartons still available, students were sent home with “COVID – 19” (Continue On with Very Individual Designs) kits.

Each ‘kit’ contained 19 empty milk cartons and the following directions :“For the last few weeks, we have been very busy creating unique repurposed milk carton projects! We have made bee hotels, hydroponic systems, baskets, and a GIANT bottle/can return bin! NOW, in light of our current situation, it’s your turn! Here are 19 empty milk cartons for you to repurpose. Create something! Projects that are related to “gardening” are best.  What can you make?”

Students were encouraged to send photos and videos of these at home projects to Snow.

At this time, discussions are being held as to how to best use this prize.  One consideration is to have a public water line run to the school garden.  Currently, the watering system at the garden is through a rainwater collection system.  This works well, until we have drought conditions. This spring, an orchard (a grant received through will be planted adjacent to the garden and a public water line close to the area would be of great value for the new fruit trees.