Now Open: The Greenest Garden in Town!

By Scott Boylston / photos by Meagan Hodge

Ready, set…grow!

With Shuman Elementary School’s new garden already in full bloom, Emergent Structures partnered with Savannah-Chatham Country Public School System, Savannah-Chatham PTA, and IKEA to officially celebrate the completion of the garden. This week’s ribbon cutting was celebrated with great fanfare, thanks to a wide variety of Shuman students who presented their spring garden projects, including the creation of a gourd garden for musical instruments, a butterfly garden, and soil enrichment with fish heads in a Native American planting ritual.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Lockamy, Board of Education members Dr. Joe Buck (president), Dr. Dionne Hoskins, and┬áMrs. Cornelia Hall, joined Shuman Principal Dianne Towles, PTA President and garden leader Sandra Cason, IKEA manager Joel Everett, Emergent Structures board members Roger Bowman, Scott Boylston, Mark Fitzpatrick, and Keith Howington, and one of Emergent Structures’ Materialanthropists for this project Jeanne Svendson, in cutting the ribbon to celebrate the occasion. David Cason, who was integral to the entire process (and responsible for designing and building the toolshed, brick walkway and cedar branch gate) also participated, as did David and Sandra’s two sons.

As a means of promoting innovative material re-use, Emergent Structures presented Shuman Elementary with one of our Exclaim Your Reclaim plaques that tells the story of the materials used to construct the pergola, toolshed, walkway and other garden features. The plaque, cut from a redwood staircase step from one of the reclamation sites identified for the Shuman project, will be adhered to the pergola so that all Shuman students and visitors can learn of the materials’ interesting history before its ‘new’ life at Shuman, and come to appreciate the value of seemingly ‘unusable’ materials.

In the photograph above, a picture of the Shuman courtyard in its earlier state of disuse is juxtaposed against the completed vision. Just as too few people can see the value of construction waste, only a handful of people were able to envision what the courtyard could become; but that handful of people were enough to make the vision a reality!

We are extremely proud of this project, which demonstrates the value of broad-based collaboration in the interest of a full, life-cycle stewardship of unwanted building materials for the benefit of the community. You could call it DE-CON to RE-CON. Emergent Structures and its partners have demonstrated that a comprehensive mix of green-jobs training, volunteer events, corporate partnerships, donor participation, public school involvement, and visionary material re-purposing can lead to extraordinary results. Local TV station, WTOC covered the ribbon cutting the ribbon cutting, an article in Connect Savannah can be found here, and photographs from Savannah Morning News can be found here.

We’d like to give another shout out to the mateiralanthropists for this project: Jeanne Svendson and Debra and Dr. Chuck Caldwell, for generously allowing Emergent Structure to reclaim and re-use building materials from their homes!


  1. Erin Fenley says

    Congrats all! Really exciting to see this transformation.

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