Welcome fairies! Tiny Root fairy village dedicated on Signal Mountain

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By Jenni Frankenberg Veal | – 

Little Root is a childhood garden of dreams at the Mountain Arts Community Center on Signal Mountain. (Photo: Jenni Frankenberg Veal)

Despite looming rain, a crowd of delighted adults and children—including the mayor of Signal Mountain—gathered on Earth Day for the dedication of Little Root fairy village at the Mountain Arts Community Center.

There was ice cream for everyone, a middle school student was sworn in as the village mayor, and Signal Mountain Mayor Dick Gee accepted the key (a tiny twig wrapped in red ribbon) to the imaginative city.

Cathy Barker and her granddaughter, Catie, explore Little Root. (Photo: Jenni Frankenberg Veal)

Such is the stuff of fairy villages, tiny gardens that beckon to childhood fantasies and magic.

Little Root is a childhood garden of dreams, the result of 12 weeks of imaginative work and play by children and adults at the Mountain Arts Community Center on Signal Mountain.

According to Executive Director Barb Storm, the idea to create a fairy garden occurred more than a year ago when staff members were brainstorming ways to beautify the community center’s surrounding 5.2 acres. The center’s advisory board got excited about the garden—and the rest is history.”The idea for a fairy garden on the property morphed into a community project,” Storm said.

Nearly 50 students participated in two separate after-school sessions that included professional instruction in city planning, architecture, storytelling, art, woodworking and landscape design.

Funded by an Arts Build Communities grant through the Tennessee Arts Commission, the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) workshops resulted in a garden village that includes fairy-sized houses, playgrounds and walkways—all designed with community planning in mind.

“Students did all the construction, working with wood, gourds, clay, roots, tree stumps, tile and found objects,” Little Root project coordinator and artist Lolly Durant says.

Signal Mountain Mayor Dick Gee (right) accepts the key to Little Root with Mountain Arts Community Center Director Barb Storm. (Photo: Jenni Frankenberg Veal)

Plantings within the garden include strawberries, lamb’s ear, sage and rosemary.

Of course, every village needs a mayor. Tiny Root’s middle school-aged mayor, Ella Saunders, said that she was elected because of her speech and because her great-grandfather was once mayor of Delray Beach, Florida.

“It runs in my blood,” Saunders said.

Like any community, Little Root will continue to develop with time, Little Root project manager Michelle Michaud said.

“We want Little Root to remain an interactive garden,” Michaud said. “We want people to continue to participate, either by leaving small items for the fairies (they like shiny things), adding their own fairy houses, or simply by weeding or adding plants to the garden.”

To learn more about Little Root, visit