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Hand a man a piece of fruit, to paraphrase the proverb, and he eats for a day. Teach him to grow fruit, and he eats for a lifetime. At Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf, instead of just offering fruit in the cafeteria, students and faculty planted an orchard.

As part of the Nature Revival Garden Project at Stone, students and staff, led by the Young Researchers Community Project, which is sponsored by the Black Leadership Council for Excellence, participated last week in a “Let’s Dig It” event and planted an orchard behind the school.

The YRCP is a club at Stone that focuses on health and environmental issues; the revival project is a combined effort of the BLCE, the YRCP, the school system and community partners.

Stone students and staff look to expand the garden project to the entire 54 acres of the campus.

The orchard is sponsored by the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.

Arborist Erik Wilson was on hand to lead a Fruit Tree 101 program, which donates orchards to schools to address proper nutrition and sustainability and is sponsored by Stretch Island Fruit Company, according to its website.

Wilson spoke to 100 Stone students about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, and on the proper way to plant and care for the 24 fruit trees and 16 blackberry bushes that students planted in the orchard.

The fruit trees planted were pear, peach, fig, apple and plum.

Wilson said the students were motivated and dedicated to the project, both with the orchard and the school’s various other gardens.

Kevin Moss, 17, is a senior at Stone and a member of the YRCP. Moss joined the group to make a difference and “to put myself out there a little bit.”

By putting himself out there, Moss said he learned about harvesting fruits and vegetables through the club, and he said he learned how to properly plant a fruit tree Wednesday.

Moss said there were about 10 members of the YRCP planting the orchard. The rest of the students were from other clubs or volunteering as individuals.

Kanetta Maclin, 16, said she discovered there is a lot of work that goes into having a healthy environment.

Maclin’s classmate Michaela Scott, 16, agreed, saying the experience was great and “eye opening.”

Moss said that while the entire school may not be part of an environmental club like he is, he sees that most of the students take pride in the environmental projects in and around the school. Moss said he is proud Stone was the first Green School in Charles County.

Stone was recognized by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education as a green school in 2010.

According to information provided by the school system, green schools get their status for using resources to help students understand and act on environmental issues in Maryland, and by modeling environmental practices in and around the school.

Teachers Bonnetta Adeeb and Chris Rooney led the charge on Wednesday’s orchard planting.

Rooney said he was grateful so many students participated.

In regards to planning the orchard, Rooney said, “It took over a year to finally get [the trees planted]; it’s very exciting.”

The orchard is just one part of the school’s vision for the Nature Revival Garden project. The effort includes expanding the school’s wetlands, meadows and trails, and adding a Korean rock garden, a cafe and a farmers market run by youth.

gphillips@somdnews.com