Students in Jessica Torvik’s Horticulture/Ecology classes meet in the Nathan Hale High School greenhouse on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. The new site for horticulture classes is a few minutes’ walk from the main school building,
across the street and up the hill. As they arrive, the students take the initiative to begin doing tasks assigned to
them in their working groups. This day, they were also preparing to start making hanging baskets for their upcoming plant sale. As an observer of the greenhouse activities, I wanted to know why students signed up to take this class and what it is about gardening that they like.
For some, there is a connection to family. For Colin, his mother was the impetus for him
to take the class since gardening is a major hobby of hers. He finds that plants are a way for them to bond. For Emmy, her grandparents, who are members of the American Rhododendron Society, passed along their interest in plants to her. She sees herself working with plants in the near future, possibly having a small garden of her own at college.
For others, the class is fun to take. For Michael, it is a break from being inside of a classroom. He enjoys deadheading the plants because it is easy and relaxing. Chris is taking the class because it is fun and accessible. He especially likes working in groups and is the leader of his table group.
Farin and Andy are taking the class because they like the teacher. In fact, many tudents told me that their friends had taken the class and that is why they signed up as well. A few students mentioned that working with plants was special to them in other ways. For Jasper, he likes watering plants in the greenhouse because he can experience a change in the environment when there is water in the atmosphere and on the floor. Felisha enjoys working with nature and not doing a lot of writing in class. Her favorite task is transplanting plants. Faye believes that horticulture class is great for many students, since the learning is both visual and tactile and reaches those who learn in a different way. Richard and Kenny are taking the class a second time around. Richard enjoys learning the names of plants and says that there is an endless amount of knowledge to learn still about plants. For Kenny, he’s hoping to grow watermelons and grapes in the school farm, but will settle for
the lima beans which were one of his favorites last year.
The UW Botanic Gardens is partnering with Nathan Hale horticulture classes as well as with students at Nova High School, Ingraham High School and Garfield Teen Center in the area through the Garden-based
Restoration and Outreach Workshops (G.R.O.W.) program. The Nathan Hale students will undertake a
transformation of an empty site outside of the greenhouse into a farm where
they will grow vegetables. Site prep and planting have begun and will continue throughout the spring semester.
Nathan Hale Horticulture will be selling their organic hanging baskets, vegetable starts, and bedding plants at their greenhouse site located just north of Jane Addams K-8 School (11051 34th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98125) next month at the following days and times.