The photos you see were taken at the Shelton Intermediate School Butterfly Garden. One Shelton Intermediate School teacher said in order for his students to really grasp how their food is grown they would have to be exposed to and understand the role of pollinators. The Intermediate School\u2019s Gardening Enrichment Program leader, Eric Wolf, said he would like to move away from being known for just growing vegetables with his class and on to maintaining a schoolyard habitat where students can gain environmental knowledge. With that goal in mind and the help from volunteers from all over the community, Wolf\u2019s idea to create a butterfly garden at the Intermediate School came to fruition in June of this year. \u201cThey can understand and I can teach them about the vegetables, but until they\u2019re seeing the missing link, which is the pollinators, all day long, it can be kind of hard to capture that,\u201d said Wolf. After explaining that learning to grow vegetables was \u201cthe easiest point of entry into gardening\u201d and that\u2019s why he began teaching his kids about\u00a0aquaponics back in 2016, Wolf said he hopes his passion for sharing this knowledge with students will further the growth of the school\u2019s innovative curriculum. According to theaquaponicsource.com, the simplest definition for this innovative type of farming is the combination of aquaculture, the raising of fish, and hydroponics, the soil-less growing of plants, into one system. The fish waste serves as an organic fertilizer for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. As a product of their studies, Wolf\u2019s class has grown cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and pumpkins, but he says there\u2019s a definite lack of connection or understanding to how those are actually happening. \u201cPollinators are a huge part of not only being able to grow things that look pretty, but also food,\u201d said Wolf, who annually teaches approximately 160-180 students about seeds, composting, winter gardening, aquaponics, and the importance of supporting local food resources. Headmaster of the Intermediate School Ken Saranich said the new butterfly garden is a perfect fit for the school. "The butterfly garden is a wonderful addition to SIS. It was the best next step of learning and beautification for our school community" If you build it they will come Initially, Wolf was skeptical about calling the new space a community garden out of the fear that people would think it was meant for anyone to come and plant their own plants. His way of thinking changed when he realized how the term accurately described the process of the garden being constructed. \u201cIt really is a community garden, not in the sense that people are coming and planting their own plants, but it\u2019s been built by the community literally with donations, fund-raising, volunteer efforts, and advice that I receive from Beardsley and the Monahans at Stone Gardens Farm and resources I get from them as well,\u201d said Wolf. \u201cIt really is the embodiment of the community.\u201d Wolf said that he\u2019s wanted to construct a butterfly garden for a while now, but just hasn\u2019t been able to do it. He said that last year one of his classes found caterpillars in the garden and ultimately watched them grow into butterflies before releasing them. This marked the beginning of turning Wolf\u2019s ambitions of creating a butterfly garden into a reality. Wolf recently attended and spoke at one of the Olde Ripton Garden Club meetings where he updated the members on what they were working on and what they wanted to accomplish at the Intermediate School. This got the attention of the garden club. President of the Olde Ripton Garden Club Renee Protomastro\u00a0said the the group was inspired by Wolf\u2019s aspirations to teach the students about pollination and where food comes from. \u201cWhatever they need we\u2019re more than happy to support the program,\u201d said Protomastro, who explained that the garden club donated $500 to the efforts at SIS. \u201cEric is really our motivation. He does remarkable things with those kids.\u201d The Olde Ripton Garden club also donated 75 city flowers from its annual plant sale to Wolf and his class, as well as $100 to Perry Hill, which is doing something comparable to the Intermediate School community garden. The garden club were not the only community members to get in on the action. A former student of Wolf, Kyle Young, is a bright young rising sophomore at Shelton High who had an idea on how he could get involved in the project. \u00a0 \u201cKyle approached me and asked if he could do a project for Eagle Scouts involving the community garden,\u201d said Wolf. \u201cFrom there, we decided on creating an informational kiosk sign.\u201d Wolf said he and Young spent all fall and winter 2016 meeting and designing the sign and planning. Young secured the funding needed to do the job. A true \u2018community garden\u2019 On June 13, 2017, the time came to finally construct the new garden and Young brought along 40 volunteers to help complete the job. \u201cWe figured why not turn it into a community garden day,\u201d said Wolf. From there, mulch was laid out, the dimensions of garden were created, and Young\u2019s peers helped to build four benches for visitors to sit on. \u201cI took Mr. Wolf\u2019s life lab course when I was in 7th grade and the message really stuck with me, so when I had the opportunity to help out and help the community too, I had to do it,\u201d said Young, whose kiosk actually doubles as a dry erase board for Wolf\u2019s class to use throughout the year. \u201cI want to be constantly be adding new things to this garden and expanding,\u201d said Wolf. I\u2019m thinking of growing berries but I need to do research to determine what berry will be in season during the school year.\u201d In 2016, Wolf\u2019s class was successful in getting some of what his class grew to be served in the cafeteria, but with the city switching to a\u00a0new food provider, he said continuing that trend is a work in progress. Wolf said he can always use volunteers and anyone interested can reach out to him via email at\u00a0EWOLF@sheltonpublicschools.org\u00a0or visit\u00a0http:\/\/www.siscommunitygarden.com\/\u00a0for more information.