CAMDEN—Nine students in Margo Murphy’s Gardening & Horticulture Class at CHRHS get to spend their time outdoors on a fine day in May, cranking the tunes while they work in around the greenhouse to prep for their annual plant sale May 18 & 19.
Since January, the students have been learning how to grow seedlings in the greenhouse and with 500 plants consisting of perennials, annuals, herbs and flowers, they are ready to let them all go to the public.
“We have a small but mighty crew this semester,” said Murphy. “Each year that number fluctuates between nine and 20 students.”
The annual sale isn’t just the final celebration of their hard work; it’s the beginning phase of their next project, and some of the proceeds to begin work on the spring garden in the terraces next to the greenhouse. “The money is used for a couple of sustainability projects,” said Murphy. “We’re putting in a aquaponic system, an orchard, and our new composting system as well.”
The terraces will produce fruits, vegetables and herbs that the cafeteria uses for its school meals.
The Horticulture & Garden Club goes full circle with regard to sustainability. Four Compost Managers oversee the class’s newest project to make their own compost from the trash, and food scraps collected from the cafeteria. Ad Weisbruch, a freshman, is one of four Compost Managers, who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.
“We’re learning how to deal with organic waste,” he said. “We have to sift out the trash and run it through a shredder.”
“We’ve got two things we’re working on systems-wise in the cafeteria,” said Murphy. “We’re trying to make it so that whatever kids have on their plate is compostable, but we’re not there yet. So, the Compost Managers take everything that comes out of the cafeteria and go though all the garbage and when they have all of this organic, shredded up food and paper, we combine it with horse manure to make our own compost. We’ll use it in our spring plating project and on our grounds. It’s saving us money; it’s saving the landfills from a good portion of waste and it’s teaching the students how to bring these skills home.”
“I was interested in learning about composting and how to manage waste,” said Weisbruch, who said he’s already doing this at home with his family. He’s pretty sure he sees himself in some kind of outdoor job when he gets older.
The annual sale takes place Saturday, May 18 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Sunday, May 19 from 9 a.m. to noon. All containers are $3 each. Buy three and get the fourth for free. On Sunday, everything is buy one, get one free from 9 to 11 a.m. and the last hour everything is $1. They will also have their first batch of CHRHS compost for sale. Bring your 5-gallon bucket or there will be pre-packaged bags.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org