Town manager Brantley Price and town planner Matthew Levi met with Daniel Calhoun and one of his Horticulture classes Thursday afternoon to discuss plans for the class’s involvement in maintaining the beauty of downtown West Jefferson.
Daniel Calhoun will lead Ashe County High School Horticulture classes in planting, mulching, watering and maintaining the curb extension planters and other landscaping fixtures throughout the streets. The project should begin in full force in the spring, but until then, there are still things the classes can do.
Calhoun said that the class could take samples for analysis to determine the readiness of the soil for planting. “It doesn’t cost anything other than shipping for the samples. The tests are free. We could do that easily,” said Calhoun.
Price and Levi said the soil testing would make their town maintenance crew very happy.
Owners of The Artists’ Theatre, Steve and Lisa Willingham have made the beautification of East Main Street a pet project of theirs, and welcome the students’ help. The Willinghams have played a large role in maintaining the fenced area next to the Ashe County Cheese gift shop Lisa calls “the wall.”
“I was going to get in touch with a garden club or something, but it’s good to deal with the schools,” said Steve.
Lisa expressed her appreciation for David Barr, the owner of Quiet County Amish Furniture, who also had a hand in making the stretch of East Main Street presentable. Lisa said that Barr saw her planting flowers at “the wall” and came out to offer his assistance.
Lisa said it was refreshing to see teenagers getting involved in their community this way.
Price and Calhoun both said that this project would be mutually beneficial for the town and the Horticulture classes.
“This is a great opportunity for the kids to have a hands-on learning experience. There is only so much you can teach in the classroom, but when they’re actually putting the plants in the ground they become familiar with the specifics,” said Calhoun.
He said this is an excellent way to address different learning styles with a combination of academic learning and physical participation.
In the coming months, Price will determine what materials are needed, and leave the rest up to Calhoun and his students.