The Madison Simis Elementary School garden program, DIGGS (Discovery Is Growing Gardens at Simis), is an active, hands-on science based gardening program for little hands. Established over 17 years ago, it has grown and developed over time—and not without some significant help from community businesses and supporters.
Recent partners who have come on board with DIGGS are the Home Depot Store #0477, and Moon Valley Tree Service Division. Home Depot has donated soil, paint, and seeds to the program for the spring planting season, thanks to Assistant Manager Jose Sanchez and his garden department.
Moon Valley Tree Service Division contributed mulch, pots, and seeds to supplement the gardens thanks to Simis volunteer Jennifer Rice, and the generosity of her boss, Bryan Wallace.
“With the donations made possible by Home Depot and Moon Valley Tree Service Division, we are able to continue gardening this spring season for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade as this is a transition year of our program while our school is under construction,” said LeiLani Ward-Smith, Madison Simis Elementary DIGGS co-chairperson.
Another new community partner is adding a unique item to help grow the program. As part of its “McCafé School Gardens Grow,” a coffee grounds recycling initiative, Madison Simis has partnered with the 16th St. & Glendale McDonald’s to recycle coffee grounds for the school garden beds.
The new initiative is part of McDonald’s “Good Neighbor Good Grounds” recycling program, designed to divert used coffee grounds from the waste stream by promoting the reuse of coffee grounds to add nutrients to soil or compost. Schools pick up the grounds weekly from their local McDonald’s restaurant.
“We are looking forward to a bountiful collaboration with McDonald’s and teaching students the importance of recycling and reuse,” said Smith.
Rebecca Nieto, DIGGS co-chair, added, “McDonald’s coffee grounds will be an added enrichment to our soil amendments, and the ease with which this program has made them available to us is immeasurable.”
The DIGGS program is cultivated by volunteers, donations, and occasional grants to the program. Students in kindergarten through fourth grade, as well as Special Education, garden during Arizona growing seasons in the fall and spring. The DIGGS curriculum in the classroom and out in the garden provides the students with an understanding of science, nature, and the world around them.