Bobby Ray Elementary is getting a wetland garden in the area behind the football field through a one-year grant called the UT River Friendly Landscaping Project.
According to Director of Schools Bobby Cox, the School Board was approached by the University of Tennessee and city of McMinnville to improve the area and utilize it as an educational tool for students.
“We will provide some minimal assistance, light dirt work and things of that type and they will turn that into a wetland garden area to beautify the campus,” said Cox. “I think it’s a great opportunity not only for the students, but for the community. They’ve even mentioned offering a class for nurserymen to explore different types of horticulture.”
The wetland garden will be around 2,000 square feet, featuring plants like elderberries, nine bark, silky dogwoods, spice bushes, and red chokeberry, along with smaller plants like butterfly weed and rose milkweed.
Work is scheduled to begin next week with some excavation to create an open area pool to encourage more interaction from local wildlife including frogs, salamanders and turtles. This pool will be 30 feet long and 12 feet wide. Local students will be helping with the planting to get the project started.
“The things they will plant will attract monarch butterflies and they have done a similar project next to the interstate in Crossville that they are now seeing bald eagles,” said Bobby Ray principal Monti Hillis. “We have some teachers who are interested in developing a vegetable garden so he gave us some ideas and info on that along with some raised beds.”
After the grant is over, the school system will continue with the garden’s upkeep.