Ryan Schafer gets help measuring boards from his son Jackson Schafer, 5, and Dalton LaVeck, 13, during a volunteer work day at Canaan Community Academy on Saturday. Volunteers built a storage building to hold supplies and equipment for the school gardens. The building project was made possible by a $4,550 grant from the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Ryan Schafer gets help measuring boards from his son Jackson Schafer, 5, and Dalton LaVeck, 13, during a volunteer work day at Canaan Community Academy on Saturday. Volunteers built a storage building to hold supplies and equipment for the school gardens. The building project was made possible by a $4,550 grant from the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Students at Canaan Community Academy will be getting their hands dirty next year. Last May, the charter school added an outdoor learning facility that will incorporate gardening into the school's curriculum.

Over the weekend, the school added a shed to go along with the new learning space.

The 12-by-20 foot outdoor storage shed will be used for gardening and landscaping supplies. Those supplies are needed because Coltin Powers - as part of his Eagle Scout project - built an outdoor learning lab for the school. The lab includes 12 small gardens.

Chief Academic Officer Deena Schafer said students will be able to use the gardens during a T.E.A.M time gardening club run by school teacher Vicki Lundergun, and in class as well.

"During team time (students have) been seeding trays to grow in the green house," Schafer said.

As of now, the plan is to grow corn, cherry tomatoes and basil to use in the school cafeteria. Any extra food would then be sold to help fund the outdoor lab.

"We're hoping it evolves into a self-supporting enterprise. We hope to make enough to pool back into tools and garden supplies," Schafer said.

Money for the new shed came from a Lowe's Toolbox for Education grant.

"Lowe's is not only supplying us with the money to purchase the lumber, but they're also sending at least eight volunteer employees with tools to help us build."

Schafer's daughter, Laura Schafer, applied for the grant in October. It was approved in January.

"The plan was to have gardens as part of the school at the beginning," Laura Schafer said. "We'll be able to use them in a variety of lessons."

So far, students have already seeded 25 trays that hold up to 125 seeds a piece. Those trays are currently residing in one of the school's green houses, and will be planted in the future.

To prepare for the gardens, Canaan Community Academy sent several school representatives, including Lundergun, to Granny's Garden School in Loveland, Ohio, to learn how to better use the land.

The non-profit educational organization collaborates with schools to offer hands-on learning in the gardens that fit with the school's curriculum.

Deena Schafer said the goal is to have cherry tomatoes ready to pick by next school year.