Inspired by a fall 2020 project in Geyserville, decorated half wine barrels will be placed around town starting in May

In just a few weeks, 48 brightly painted, one-of-a-kind half wine barrels will be lining the streets of Cloverdale. On Saturday, April 24, families, community members and Cloverdale students spent the day at Jefferson Elementary getting them ready.

The Spring Planter Project, organized by three Jefferson teachers and made possible through various meetings and approvals through both the city of Cloverdale and the Cloverdale Unified School District, is the first of its kind in Cloverdale.

Kindergarten teacher Cheree Tappin first got the idea for a community event based around decorating wine barrels while driving through Geyserville last fall. In October, 67 barrels were decorated with seasonal themes and placed along Geyserville Avenue through Thanksgiving.

“I brought it to (Jefferson Principal Susan Yakich’s) attention, and then I brought it to Betha (MacClain’s) attention and then I formed a committee. We’ve just been working,” Tappin said.

Tappin worked with first grade teacher Heather Noyes and transitional kindergarten teacher Sirelle Brackett to get everything organized and set up.

The teachers had to get clearance from both the city and the school district, and also reached out to businesses to make sure they were OK with having a planter outside of their storefronts.

“We have at least one kid from every grade doing this,” Tappin said. “It’s districtwide — even our superintendent is doing a barrel, which is nice — we have a couple people (here) who aren’t attending our school this year, who are homeschooling.”

Parents, grandparents, kindergarteners, high schoolers and people in between were all spaced apart at tables in Jefferson’s kindergarten playground area on Saturday — creating together, while still safely apart.

“This is a family event — you’re painting with your family — we’ve had grandparents, we’ve had a police officer come at his break to paint,” Tappin said. “These barrels are absolutely beautiful.”

Two sisters, Leah, 8, and Brooke, 6, collaborated on a planter that will be placed at Papa’s Pizza. Interspersed with colorful panels of paint were rainbows and slices of pizza, which they both agreed was their favorite thing to paint.

When asked how she thinks she’ll feel when she goes to Papa’s and sees the planter, Leah said that she’ll be happy.

For those looking to make a day out of going around and seeing the 48 planters, small square QR codes were carved into pieces of wood at the Cloverdale High School Maker Space and will be attached to each barrel. When scanned, it will lead people to the Spring Planter Project website where they’ll be able to see a map of where all of the planters are and will get the opportunity to read about the artists.

As it’s the first year, Tappin said that she’s hoping that the work done to organize the project this year will better inform what they’ll need for future barrel decorating projects.

“The next time will be bigger, it might be a two-day event because it’s a lot of work and right now we can only do so many barrels (at once),” she said.

Tappin said that eventually, post-pandemic, she’d like to see the event grow to include more than places for people to set up and paint. “We’d like to have the Lions Club do hot dogs and jumpys.”

“It’s already a community event, but make it more like a festival,” Yakich said

To help with the project, Cloverdale Nursery provided plants, Rodney Strong provided wine barrels, Ace Hardware provided paint and dirt and the Cloverdale Adds Resources for Education (CARE) Foundation gave $3,000 to help with additional supplies. Each participating group received a barrel, two bags of dirt, three plants, a solar light and a glass water ball (participants are being asked to save the water ball for use at home, rather than using it when the barrels are placed around town). While they spent Saturday painting, participants will now take home the barrels, plant flowers in them and, in May, drop them off in front of participating local businesses. Participating families paid $50 and will get to keep their decorated planter at home once the two month stint downtown is over.

“It’s nice, at nighttime the solar lights will go on and people can drive around town (looking for them),” Tappin said. The majority of the planters will be placed in downtown Cloverdale, though at least one will be at each school site and the district office.

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