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Horizonte Students Bring Life Back to Greenhouses

After several years of lying fallow, the Horizonte greenhouses are now being utilized again! At the beginning of the second semester, a new class was formed - Introduction to Horticulture - and a dozen students and I walked into a dirty, disorganized space. I was immediately impressed with how willing our students were to get dirty and get to work. We cut down trees that had started growing, removed an old watering system, and took stock of all the vents, heaters, and pumps that didn't work. With help from our principal, Joshua Bell, and our on-site maintenance maestro, Jesus Gonzales, we performed enough basic fixes to get the largest greenhouse usable. 

Before long, we had studied the 17 nutrients necessary for plants to grow, made our own topsoil, and were experimenting with various methods of planting seeds. Again, as a regular classroom teacher, I was impressed: students had an authentic reason to engage with each other as they needed to work together. The only phone out was the one plugged into our portable speaker, playing music. All hands were dirty (even the ones with long, intricately-painted fingernails). Introduction to Horticulture has become my favorite class of the day.

Now, when we enter into the greenhouse, we are immediately greeted by the warmth, humidity, and earthy smells produced by thousands of seedlings. We've planted and transplanted several varieties of cucumber, tomatoes, and some broccoli to get people's gardens started. We've got neat little 4-packs of various plants, and lots of marigolds, portulaca flowers, and zinnias. 

We have some hanging baskets of flowers that we hope will be blooming by Mothers' day, and I am excited to be able to send my hard-working students home with whatever flowers or garden starts that they want, so the magic can spread to their home plots. For the rest, we're going to hold some plant sales for anyone who wants some organic vegetables or flowers, and is willing to help support a successful horticulture program!

 - submitted by Mark A. Regier at Horizonte

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