The Pershing Garden began nearly 15 years ago with the vision, labor and passion of Mr. Charles Coursey, Sr., who came to Pershing Middle School as a history teacher in 1999. A retired farmer from Florida, he offered to teach gardening, initially as a club, then as a formal elective as gardening grew in popularity. The abundant fresh veggies were often prepared for students to eat and sell in the popular farmer’s market. Sadly, Mr. Coursey succumbed to his battle with cancer in October 2018.
Without a faculty member to immediately step into Mr. Coursey’s gardening boots, the garden remained fallow in the months before and after his passing. Parental support for the garden remained strong, however, and the parent turned teacher, Renee Hawk, wrote a grant that secured a 3-year partnership with Recipe for Success, a local non-profit aimed at helping children to understand, appreciate and eat fresh food for a healthier diet. The garden transformed again into the Pershing Garden Club where dedicated students and parent volunteers arrived an hour before school twice a week and on some weekends to prepare the soil, sow seeds and care for the emerging garden until harvest.
This past fall, the students planted everything from artichokes, beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, celery, chives, collard greens, kale, to green onions, lettuce, marigolds, nasturtium, radishes, snap peas, Swiss chard and turnips! In the true spirit of seed to plate, students prepared simple, healthy and delicious dishes using their freshly picked veggies like bagels with cream cheese, sliced radishes, lemon juice and fresh dill as well as savory Korean green onion pancakes, kale wraps, and celery lemonade. Excess veggies were often shared with the Pershing faculty and staff.
Major fundraising for the garden this past year came from both the Pershing PTO and none other than Charles Coursey II – Mr. Coursey’s son. Charles doesn’t claim to be the gardener that his dad was, but he is an avid fisherman. As another contribution to his dad’s legacy, Charles generously offered to take two lucky raffle winners and their families on a fishing trip near Sabine Pass. The raffle raised $1,500 for the garden club! Featured below are the Pham Family who fished last November and the Donalson Family who fished in July.
While relatively small today, the Pershing Garden plans to expand once more as gardening is again offered as an elective and as a club when school resumes. Members of the community who would like to help volunteer on the weekends should contact Virginia Camerlo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations to the Garden can be made through the Pershing PTO with the memo “Garden Club” sent to 3838 Blue Bonnet Blvd. Houston, Tx 77025.