By Tom Oder

Will Koval, left, and Ellen Augustine pose at the Dunwoody High School garden that Grow Dunwoody planted last year.

Grow Dunwoody kicked off the school year with a new team of enthusiastic leaders.

Will Koval, a senior at Dunwoody High School, where Grow Dunwoody originated and is based, is the new director of the program.

Koval is a member of the city’s Sustainability Commission and co-president of Dunwoody’s Environmental Coalition.

He succeeds Danny Kanso, who founded Grow Dunwoody a year ago as a student-led effort to develop and use organic gardening as a way to demonstrate sustainable and eco-friendly practices at each school in the Dunwoody cluster. Kanso is now a freshman at the University of Georgia.

The other three members of Grow Dunwoody’s student leadership team, all seniors, and the faculty advisor are: Hardika Dhir, assistant director, Marjorie Williams, manager of operations, and David Heavern, administrator and operator of the Grow Dunwoody website (

Ellen Augustine, who teaches Advance Placement Environmental Science and Chemistry, is the faculty sponsor for Grow Dunwoody and the DHS environmental club.

Kovall, a Grow Dunwoody volunteer last year, recently discussed the leadership team’s plans for the year ahead with Augustine.

At the top of their list is a fundraising kickoff event being planned for mid-September at Café Intermezzo, 4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road.

The purpose of the event, Koval said, is to raise funds for establishing and maintaining organic vegetable beds at Peachtree Middle School, which serves as a link to the elementary schools in the cluster and Dunwoody High.

Other goals for the academic year include:

A solar project. A small panel that can be used for various educational purposes by physics and environmental science classes will be installed at Dunwoody High.

Adopt a spot. Grow Dunwoody will work with the Dunwoody Homeowners Association to find public land such as islands in public roads that can be used for sustainable vegetable gardens.

Vegetable beds at Dunwoody High. The students have two growing seasons. They’ll plant winter vegetables about the time of the September kickoff event.

Native plants at Dunwoody High. Grow Dunwoody will plant a wide variety of natives in the inner courtyard for use in studying environmental stability and medicinal uses.

Chesnut Charter’s summer garden

Chesnut Charter’s garden share program has worked out really well, parent volunteer Carissa Malone said. Eight families have watered, weeded and harvested the garden for one week each since school ended in the spring. Harvests have included garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, many different herbs, swiss chard and strawberries. The watermelon, cucumbers, pumpkin and sweet potatoes are growing well and will be harvested in upcoming weeks.

Plans for the fall garden will be similar to last year. Parent volunteers and teachers will involve as many students as they can with planting seeds and harvesting. Most of the planting will happen in September. The goal is to harvest lettuce and radishes by October, and cabbage and carrots in January and February. Chard, kale and many kinds of herbs will be grown throughout the winter.

Vanderlyn pumps out pumpkins

Pumpkins and sweet potatoes have been growing in the school garden throughout the summer. The pumpkins are for “Pumpkin Math” on Halloween, parent volunteer Tina Wilkinson said. Students estimate the weight of each pumpkin and then weigh them to see if their estimates are close.

Fourth graders will harvest the sweet potatoes as part of their Social Studies curriculum about Native Americans and the crops they grew in northern Georgia. The potatoes were planted when the students were third graders.