On June 9th, dozens of Capitals fans and members of the organization braved the record-setting heat at Powell Elementary School along with a crew of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) volunteers as part of “The People’s Garden” initiative. A week and a half later, victory has finally been declared.
As an organization, the Caps have been involved with the Powell Elementary School garden project since its inception in February. On the more visible end of the spectrum, two players have been directly involved in the project, contributing time and helping to bring attention to the initiative. During the planning stages, Mike Green visited the school to help with the design of the new garden area, working with students to generate ideas for the new space. Last Thursday, Jeff Schultz joined the volunteers in turning a patch of dry and hard-packed grass into the beginnings of an educational greenspace.
While it sounds like a simple task to turn a grassy area into a garden, the new outdoor education area at the elementary school won’t just be there for aesthetics. The design incorporates both an outdoor classroom space and a picnic area, as well as including plants that produce edible fruits (like blueberries) and those that encourage a diverse range of pollinating species. In addition, a shed was constructed for gardening tools and supplies. The Capitals organization donated materials for the shed, as well as snacks for the volunteers and tools used in the project. The USDA was responsible for the majority of the supplies that actually became the garden – mulch, soil additives, plants, etc.
As anyone who’s been involved with a major landscaping project can tell you, it’s rare to finish on schedule. This endeavor proved no exception, and even with the help of several volunteers and staff who stayed late on the initial work day, a follow-up session was needed. Yesterday, the volunteers returned to finish the job. It was a Field Day at the elementary school, so students also peppered the workspace to try their hands at planting and spreading mulch (and occasionally dodging spray from the hose, a popular pastime during both work sessions).
Despite the fact that we’re into the off-season, the Capitals continue to be an important part of the local community. On a day when every sensible person in the region was clinging to their air conditioner like a lifeline, members of the Caps community were donating time and sweat to improve the quality of education offered at a local elementary school. And in fairness to the fans involved, nearly everyone who was involved in the first workday showed up for the second, regardless of the fact that the only members of the Capitals organization who would be present this time around were those who work behind the scenes.
At its heart, hockey is a team sport. Every player on the bench pulls his or her weight in one way or another, whether the level of skill is professional or lower-C. As Washington becomes more of a hockey town, it’s heartening to see that attitude spill over into places as far from the frigid air of the rink as one can find. Places like a sun-baked elementary school playground in the middle of June.