By Brenda L. Holmes
PLAINFIELD — Just about the entire student body at Brentwood Elementary School in Plainfield contributed to the creation of a new teaching garden at the school. With the help of community sponsors, the project was completed in a day.
The American Heart Association Teaching Garden was placed in the school’s courtyard. Students had a hands-on experience and will benefit from the garden as they learn about good nutritional choices.
AHA’s Jennifer Nanny works on many youth projects for the organization and was on hand to help with the project here.
“One of the criteria to get a teaching garden is that you have community support,” she said. “And Duke jumped right in. This school has a very supportive team. Brentwood is also a long time Jump Rope for Heart school. We put this project together very quickly because they wanted to get started in this spring growing season. The kids are having so much fun.”
The school’s PTO president, Andi Solero, said the AHA and heart health has a special meaning to her family. Her husband, Dan, survived a heart attack just over a year ago.
“At 40, my husband’s cholesterol level was over 400,” Solero said. “My dad is a physician said he would have a heart attack. I’m just glad I knew the signs.”
She said last July she and her husband were at home working.
“He said, ‘My jaw hurts. Will you take me to prompt med?’” she said. “I asked why would he would want to go to prompt med for that? And he yelled, ‘please just take me.’ I thought, ‘Oh, you’re also agitated.’”
She said her husband is normally laid back and very quiet, but was very outspoken during this incident.
“I asked my older son to watch his sister and we went to St. Francis,” Solero said. “We live in Mooresville, so we went to the hospital there. I told him I thought he was having a heart attack.”
He was placed on a heart monitor and was indeed in the middle of a heart attack. The staff transported him to the St. Francis Southport campus.
“He had 100 percent blockage in the main artery and 90 percent blockage in the secondary artery,” she said. “He had two stints put in and two months to the day of his surgery we walked in the Heart Walk.”
The couple started a running club called Jonnie’s Good Guys. They’ve been very active and run in several marathons and half marathons.
They also learned that Dan has a genetic condition that has also been found in their son.
“I have a 12-year-old that has a cholesterol level over 300,” Solero said. “So on July 18 last year, we became vegetarians. Our family can eat over a pound of vegetables in a day.”
She said she was honored to be a part of the Teaching Garden and hopes it will encourage better eating habits for other students at Brentwood.
Dawn Horth of Duke Energy said the company was happy to jump on board and help with funds, as well as volunteers for the project.
“We were able to donate $1,500 to purchase the supplies for the planters and the soil,” Horth said. “We also brought 15 linemen to help build the boxes and move the dirt.”
Horth said it was good timing since Earth Day is April 22.
This year’s celebration, Earth Day 2013, marks the 43rd Earth Day to date. Going back in time, the first Earth Day, back in 1970, marked the early stirrings of environmental consciousness in the United States. Once the notion took hold, this flowering of the green mindset extended to the world at large.
The Teaching Garden at Brentwood features 10 raised beds that will grow a variety of vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Staff and parent volunteers will care for the garden when school is not in session.