By Claire Guo, Co-Student-Life Editor
To the side of the wall in the small courtyard sits the school greenhouse. Inside it’s steaming, at least 10 degrees warmer than the 70-degree air outside. Lined on the shelves grow small green plants from small brown pots: mini cacti, spider plants, newly grown stalks of bamboo. Outside lie plots of land. After a long summer, their bright green tomato plants are full-grown and bursting with large ripening tomatoes.
But these plants don’t grow all by themselves. The members of Horticulture Club come every Wednesday — and other days of the week to water the plants during dry spells — to cultivate the vegetation, planting new seeds, moving seedlings to pots with better soil, weeding the tomato plants and more. These students are the only reason these plants are here and healthy.
Most of the plants are grown by club members from brought-in seeds or from clippings of older plants. After spending week after week cultivating different varieties from youth to maturity, they’ve learned exactly how to treat them. Senior Dunya Markovic elaborates on what she’s learned about aloe in particular.
“We started off with like six (aloe plants), and now there’s over 27,” Markovic said. “They just kind of grow on their own, and it’s just really cool to see all their stages. There’s so many of them, you can kind of mess up with one. If one of them dies, it’s okay because you have 26 other ones.”
She explains how after a while, she learned how to recognize different signals the plants were giving.
“I spent a lot of time with aloe, so I know that if it’s under-watered, it turns brownish, and if it’s overwatered—then they also start to die—so there are certain characteristics, like they kind of droop,” Markovic said.
Junior Sarah Kundra is the official president of Horticulture Club, but interestingly enough, most of the remaining members collectively agree that they are all Co-Vice-Presidents. Kundra herself says even her distinction as president should be shared by everyone.
“I’m the President, but we have a bunch of Vice-Presidents that—we’re all kind of the President in a way, but I just do the secretary stuff. We all have a say in everything we do, which I think is really good about our club,” Kundra said.
And beyond the simple sharing of decisions, Kundra feels that the club is close in a personal way.
“It’s just like a huge family, and that’s all I can really describe it as,” Kundra said. “Because we’re all best friends, and anyone that joins is immediately our best friend, and it’s great to have a small little group like this where we can all talk about what’s going on personally and just hang out together.”
Junior Claire Hallman joined the club last February, and already feels like she’s part of the family Kundra describes.
“It’s like a little plant-fam. Everyone’s just so nice. It’s not one of those clubs where you come and you feel judged, you know what I mean?” Hallman said. “And it’s on Wednesday, so it gets you through that first half of the week, and the second.”
For Kundra, their weekly meetings are her favorite part of Conestoga in general.
“It’s the best part about school, absolutely. Now that I’m in 11th grade, everything’s gotten so crazy, and it’s just a perfect way to kind of unload everything and just a great way to relax,” Kundra said.
Junior James McGee originally joined because friends were in the club, he said, but four months in, Horticulture Club helped him recognize his strong penchant for taking care of plants.
“Honestly I want to go into botany in my future as a career,” McGee said. “And I don’t think I would have made that decision or wanted to make that decision if I didn’t join Horticulture Club.”
Izzy Thornberg had a different experience. After joining Conestoga this year as a freshman, she immediately wanted to join Horticulture Club as a way to improve her skills as a gardener.
“I have 43 plants in my room, and so my room is a greenhouse of its own,” Thornberg said. “So to see that my school has an actual greenhouse, and like a Horticulture Club where you just get to relax and work with plants is great.”
Though she’s only gone to two meetings so far, Thornberg hopes that by continuing to come, she’ll learn how to emulate what she’s seen older members accomplish.
“I’m hoping to learn how to germinate seeds, because I tried doing it on my own several times, and even though I got sprouts, I still ended up killing them somehow and I don’t know why. But these guys seem to be just like (that), germinate them like that, and everything grows in there, and I don’t know how, so I want to figure it out.”
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Claire can be reached at email@example.com.