In Autumn 2016, teachers Katharine Byers and Gail Bryn-Jones were awarded a grant from the SSI Foundation to construct a deer-fenced garden in front of the school, adjacent to the new Outdoor Classroom. This includes a picnic table and u-shaped raised beds with a central bed down the middle. As part of this project, Matt Nowell at Gulf Islands Irrigation added a 400-gallon rain barrel and gutters to the Outdoor Classroom.
On the deer-fenced slope behind the school, a school parent, Robin Jenkinson drew a new design for the overgrown hillside in Fall 2016 and shared it with the PAC and SSE teachers and staff. After incorporating feedback, the new SSE Garden Committee organized monthly work-parties, and supported by many local donors, they cleared the re-grown weeds, constructed an additional entrance, gates, pathways, and a gathering area, plus terraced garden beds. Additionally, the group of community, teachers and staff, and school family volunteers constructed an ELF sandbox, plexiglass easels (made from old golf cart windshields), a blackboard and cob benches. Students helped move soil and wood-chip mulch into beds and onto pathways, and they planted the garden and buried seedy time-capsules. A three-bin composter was constructed in Fall 2017 to handle paper towel and food waste (each class was throwing away nearly a garbage bag of paper towels each week!).
In Winter 2017-18, Linda McDaniels' 2-3rd grade class designed additional features for the garden and made a video. These included a greenhouse, a fish pond, a movie theatre, a vine-covered shade arbor over the sandbox, resting tipis, a composting toilet, a fairy garden, a vegetable climbing sculpture, and a haybale seating area.
In Spring 2018, Michael Nickels brought his Seven Ravens Permaculture class to interview the SSE Garden Committee and Linda's class and develop an updated vision for the Hillside Garden, one that includes permaculture principles and a food forest.
In 2018-19, a greenhouse was added along with additional rammed-earth retaining walls, haybale terraced beds, a wooden writing surface, new latches on the fences, and more.