By Jill Fox
After a series of discussions between Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the city, and the community, the Project Grow Love Garden will be replanted, and residents will have the opportunity to help.
The garden, built to honor the shooting victims on February 14, 2018, is located on the northeast corner of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus.
After being dismantled without warning, it was a subject of contention for the families of the shooting victims and several members of the community — including those who helped build it.
According to Principal Michelle Kefford, the revitalization became necessary due to deteriorating conditions at the site.
With the city involved and providing “hardy foliage that can be properly maintained,” it’s now going to become a sustainable garden.
“This revitalization project is close to the heart for our school and community,” said Principal Keffford. “We appreciate the tremendous support over the past several weeks from Mayor Rich Walker, the city of Parkland, and MSD staff.”
“We are finalizing who will maintain it, but the city has offered to,” said Mayor Rich Walker, “It’s on school board property, so that just needs to be ironed out over the next few days.”
The Project Grow Love Garden was created by AP Psychology teacher Ronit Reoven and her student, Victoria (Tori) Gonzalez, who was also Joaquin Oliver’s girlfriend.
Mayor Walker said it was always the honest intention of MSD to have the garden evolve into a beautiful, sustainable, and maintained area. The city wanted to help with this effort.
“After further discussions with those involved and the families, it was important to make sure the community was included in the final goal,” he said.
However, Gonzalez does not see this as the right solution.
“For me, personally, there is no ‘solution,’ and I am not content, but I will remain involved, moving forward, in honor of Joaquin and the 16 angels, as well as the 17 injured and the rest of our healing community,” she said.
The City of Parkland will supply the plants, and Eagles’ Haven will donate the rock painting materials. Members of the community are welcome to participate, and creativity is welcome. According to the city, volunteers must supply their own small garden tools and the labor and the love.
Principal Kefford said they want it to be a place where people feel welcome to visit.
“Through the community gardening event, everyone can participate and show their support.”
Interested participants should meet at MSD on Saturday, August 28, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. to participate in this community event.
Walker said, “We look forward to August 28, when our community stands side-by-side to honor the victims with a garden that will be lovingly created and ultimately flourish for many years to come.”
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- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.
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