Yelm High School Students Build Arbors for Community Garden

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The Yelm Community Garden will feature two new arbors thanks to the work of Yelm High School students in the landscape construction class.

Yelm teacher Matt Mounts said the class has undertaken projects before, but “nothing to this magnitude.” An arbor is a shady garden alcove that typically features plants that grow over the wooden framework.

“It was pretty cool seeing students get involved and getting ownership in it,” Mounts said. “Students put in the extra effort, time and energy and it’s great to see when it’s about them and about them leaving a legacy of their skill and knowledge to be displayed in the community.”

Mounts said the extra work by student Jonathan Sweezer, who was assisted by Carter Robison, really brought the project together.

“John was always like ‘hey we should change this, maybe we should change that,’” Mounts said. “He took apart the original design and added more to it to be more functional and appealing. He did this during his class and free time.”

Mounts has taught the landscape construction class at Yelm High School for four years. Students in the class have a landscape area at the school that they maintain. They are allowed to redesign the area every year and spend time planting, pruning and designing.

“We pick up projects all the time doing irrigation for the landscape area. We manage 17 raised garden beds, pour some concrete, work on retaining walls and gain experience,” Mounts said. “There is one area where we want to install some artificial turf.”

The 2020-2021 school year was difficult for the class because of the pandemic, but last school year, students decided to take on the arbor project.

The two arbors were constructed over the course of the summer. Mounts saw room for improvement and that’s when Sweezer and Robison took over. It took two semesters for them to renovate the arbors for the city.

“It was good to learn how to build something like that and do it in my hometown where I grew up,” Sweezer said.

Mounts said the students were able to use existing materials and didn’t have to go out and buy new items. Once Sweezer and Robison had the arbor straight and plum, it was ready to move to the garden.

“I will probably do more projects in the future,” Sweezer, who is a senior, said. “I enjoy doing woodworking projects at home and at school. In the future I could see myself selling projects on the side.”

Mounts said both the students from last year and this year are excited to know they will see their hard work on display as they drive by the Yelm Community Garden.

“They will be happy to know they were a part of that and be proud of it, while being excited to do more,” Mounts said.

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