Innovative, cutting-edge, creative: all of these words describe Zachary Ducorsky ‘22 who has expanded the boundaries of Milken middle school’s MIX (Milken Innovative Exposition) Project. Ducorsky’s proposal was not only an eco-friendly improvement, but it was thorough, advanced, and inventive to the extent that it has actually been installed into the middle school’s carpool circle.
Initially, Ducorsky and his project advisor, Mrs. Hawkins, were considering creating a compost bin, but later decided to make a garden bed with integrated composters to maximize the results. When asked how this plan was created, Ducorsky responded, “We planned it out by doing a lot of research on how to build a garden with integrated composting and came across very few designs, so we began researching materials that we could use and then planned out how it would work. We eventually decided on materials and a design and began contacting Mr. Humphreys with a proposal.”
The final design consists of the installation of a larger and improved garden bed with integrated composting in the traffic circle, which helps to create a more eco-friendly community. The garden bed is raised above the current soil level by approximately two feet and is supported on its sides by bricks designed for this purpose. There are containers integrated into the garden bed that would allow for leftover food scraps to be added to the soil to improve plant growth, soil tilth, and water retention characteristics. This type of gardening method can also provide a strong benefit to the Milken community. One problem in particular that this plan would help reduce is the amount of food students waste on campus. The leftover food scraps that students leave at lunch could be composted to help keep the garden running. This would allow for an edible garden, and a space for environmental education for students.
Overall, for an eighth grade student, Ducorsky has gone above and beyond with his complex and inventive design, which he transformed into a reality to better the environment at Milken. When discussing his desires for the future of his project, he hopes “the school will maintain it and kids will be able to take away what they want to take away from the garden, ranging from environmental knowledge to fruits and vegetables.”
In addition to this resourceful project in the middle school, Ms. Fauber and her environmental science students have been working on a similar project to Ducorsky’s at the high school. There is a garden located on the second floor of building four that has been worked on previously by many people including Ms. Kattler’s YOZMA green team, which produced lettuce and other vegetables. Ms. Fauber and her students plan to revamp the garden “and at least remove some of the weeds and see what we could grow. Our environmental science class wanted to tackle a couple environmental issues on our campus, and we saw the revitalization of the garden as worth the effort to bring back.” Mr. Humphrey’s, who also worked with Ducorsky, provided Ms. Fauber and her class with a tutorial on how to use the drip irrigation system. Ms. Fauber continues to monitor the garden and will continue throughout the summer even though everything is on a timer, so plants will be watered whether anyone is checking up on the garden or not. She is extremely passionate about taking care of the environment and she has passed that passion onto her children. In Ms. Fauber’s words, “My kids love coming up to Milken, and we’ve come up to school a couple times already on the weekends to check on the garden. We are all invested!” The purpose of the garden is “to create a beautiful space that makes people happy to be there,” she says. Many students work on the balcony in front of the garden, and Ms. Fauber leaves an open invitation for more students to spend time enjoying it. She mentions that any fruits or vegetables in the garden are available to be picked and eaten by students, faculty, and staff members, making a clever analogy, “We want it to blossom into a vibrant garden ‘vending machine.’”
Both projects are a great addition to Milken’s overall commitment to the environment and Mr. Humphrey’s goes on to say that it is, “one of the many eco-friendly improvements this school year.”