Two clubs from Maplewood Elementary, The Garden Angels and The Junto, have been providing a service to the Fort Wayne Community.

The Garden Angels currently operate the largest community garden program in northeast Indiana. The Maplewood School Community Garden is a service-learning project comprised of 50 elementary and middle school students. The objectives of the garden project are to teach children organic gardening principles, increase their level of exercise, and improve their daily consumption of fresh dark green vegetables. The students donate 75% of their crop to senior citizens and underserved women and children.

The Junto provides students with hands on farming education and volunteering opportunities. Last year the Junto organized a community-wide canned food drive. Nearly one thousand food items were collected within Maplewood Elementary alone. The Junto also raised and donated a dozen adult turkeys to the Community Harvest Food Bank. Currently, Junto families are raising chickens and ducks for food and eggs production.

The Garden Angels and The Junto want to expand their operations. These two clubs requested the help of the community. This spring, Applebees at Coventry Lane agreed to donate 15% of any patron’s bill when the attached flier was given to the server. These fliers were accepted all day. Donations helped contribute to the purchase of a used tractor for the Garden Angels. This will make farming the 7-acre lot they occupy more efficient. Donations also helped contribute to the purchase of a poultry fence for The Junto. With this fence the club will be able to grass feed dozens of organically raised turkeys for the Community Harvest Food Bank.

About Junto
The Junto was a club established in 1727 by Benjamin Franklin for mutual improvement in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also known as the Leather Apron Club, its purpose was to debate questions of morals, politics, and natural philosophy, and to exchange knowledge of business affairs1
Franklin organized a group of friends to provide a structured forum for discussion about money. The group initially composed of twelve members. The members of the Junto were drawn from diverse occupations and backgrounds, but they all shared a spirit of inquiry and a desire to improve themselves, their community, and to help others. Among the original members were a printer, a surveyor, a cabinetmaker, a clerk, and a bartender. Although most of the members were older than Franklin, he was clearly their leader.

Franklin was an outgoing, social individual and had become acquainted with some of the businessmen at a club called the Every Night Club. This gathering included prominent merchants who met informally to drink and discuss the business of the day. Franklin’s congenial ways attracted many unique and learned individuals, and from these, he selected the members for the Junto. The club met Friday nights, first in a tavern and later in a house, to discuss moral, political and scientific topics of the day.3

Franklin describes the formation and purpose of the Junto in his autobiography.
I should have mentioned before, that, in the autumn of the preceding year, [1727] I had form’d most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which we called the Junto; we met on Friday evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss’d by the company; and once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject he pleased.

Our debates were to be under the direction of a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute or desire of victory.4

The Junto’s Friday evening meetings were organized around a series of questions that Franklin devised, covering a range of intellectual, personal, business, and community topics. These questions were used as a springboard for discussion and community action. In fact, through the Junto, Franklin promoted such concepts as volunteer fire-fighting clubs, improved security (night watchmen), and a public hospital.

This is a list of questions Franklin devised to guide the discussions at Junto meetings.
•Have you met with any thing in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto?
•What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?
•Do you know of any fellow citizen, who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation? or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid?
•Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting, that you heard of? and what have you heard or observed of his character or merits? and whether think you, it lies in the power of the Junto to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?
•Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?

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