Ty Swenson
Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda talks with Mariners pitcher Lucas Luetge during the expansion of Chief Sealth International High School/Denny Middle School's garden on Aug. 1. PLEASE CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE FOR MORE.

SLIDESHOW: Garden expansion at Denny/Sealth school brings out the sports stars

It came as a total surprise to Chief Sealth International student Sahro Fidow when an impressive roster of professional Seattle athletes showed up to help her and fellow Garden Club members expand their garden for the upcoming school year on Aug. 1.

“I thought it was just (going to be) us,” Fidow said, looking around in amazement as Forey Duckett (former Seahawk) helped shovel compost, Mariners pitcher Lucas Luetge planted vegetables for the fall, and Camille Little and Svetlana Abrosimova of the Seattle Storm chipped in anywhere they were needed. Mariners pitcher Steve Delabar, Seahawk alumni Kerry Carter and former Sounders defender Taylor Graham were also in attendance.

The Chief Sealth International High School/Denny Middle School garden was started last year when the new facility opened up, and Sealth language arts teacher Mike Wentzel came up with the idea to start a garden club. The club currently has around 10 Sealth students, and with the expansion (including three new planters for more growing capacity), Wentzel said the club will be able to grow this year by bringing in Denny students and having the Sealth students act as mentors in the art of gardening.

Marta Sanchez, who runs the front office at Sealth, is also closely involved with the garden club. She said the goal is to teach students how to grow (and cook) their own foods.

“At our school, sometimes when students leave they don’t eat,” Sanchez said. “We are trying to teach them that organic is preferable not only for health, but economically as well.”

New Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda attended the event and said the garden and environmentally-friendly infrastructure at Denny/Sealth is one to be recognized.

“I think it has the potential to be the model (for other schools in Seattle),” Banda said. “As you can see, the work today was also to expand the flower beds and planter boxes so that they can grow either more of the produce or more variety of the produce.

“I think this is not only a good project-based activity for students to learn hands-on, but it also reinforces the importance of sustainability to grow your own, to use those products for your own cooking and livelihood.”

In addition to those three new planters, students, staff and athletes planted fall crop seedlings, weeded beds, improved the storage shed and built benches.

The project was sponsored by The Center for Green Schools as the U.S. Green Building Council, Washington Green Schools, Seattle Public Schools, and Seattle’s professional sports teams. Green building businesses including Skanska, Vulcan, McKinstry and Cedar Grove Composting were also partners and sent team members to help out.

According to The Center for Green Schools, “the service project is being held to raise awareness of the Center’s Green Apple Day of Service on Sept. 29, 2012. The global initiative will engage students, teachers, parents, business leaders, elected officials and others in volunteer activities at schools and campuses around the world.”

To see the garden for yourself, visit the school at 2601 S.W. Kenyon St. (the garden is on the north-facing side).