Garden Club the product of student effort

Members of the new club, which recently held a successful plant sale, collected research data that suggests working with plants helps relieve stress.
Posted on 11/11/2022
Members of the Garden Club sit around a table with advisor John Stoverink.By Gary Weckselblatt

A student-led initiative to build a greenhouse at Quakertown Community High School has inspired the start of a Garden Club. QCHS senior Mary Barbour used her connections from an Advanced Placement Research class to cultivate club members and sell the idea to the administration.

“I asked everyone in the class collectively who would be interested in helping me with my proposal,” Mary said. “They’re all capable, smart individuals. We spent a ton of Prides and lunches researching greenhouses, diagramming the site, and consulting with teachers. We surveyed everyone and hung posters. Ninety percent of students responded. We received only positive feedback and excitement.”

Mary explained her idea to science teacher John Stoverink, and he agreed to become the club’s advisor. “If Mary hadn’t done all of this work, we wouldn’t have Garden Club,” he said. “It speaks volumes of her character and ability and her tight-knit group of friends.”

The Garden Club administrative team includes Mary as president, Sage Bishop is VP, Darby Vail treasurer, Sydney Fronheiser secretary, and Madison Dager historian. It was Sydney’s project in AP Research, to determine if caring for house plants would lessen stress in people that provided evidence in a proposal they're working on for Principal Mattias van‘t Hoenderdaal. “We’re armed with research data,” Sydney said.

The club's goals, Mr. Stoverink said, are to provide an inclusive indoor/outdoor extracurricular activity for all students, to beautify a courtyard at the high school, to build a greenhouse, and to learn to identify and cultivate plants. The club meets as many times per week as possible, at times that are conducive to various student schedules.

The club has been supported by Rosedale Growers on Old Bethlehem Pike with donations of plants and propagation pots. “With these resources, we have amassed an army of small potted plants that the students have propagated from cuttings,” Mr. Stoverink said.

The club recently held its first plant sale and sold just about everything. In addition to plant propagation, “we are creating nutritious soil amendments with a worm composting bin provided by Tina Sullivan, and feeding the worms with scraps from Chef Polk's culinary class,” Mr. Stoverink said. “While most of this fun has been hosted in my classroom, we have also been outside in the library courtyard to weed the raised bed, as well as take a few plant identification tours to see what is growing there already. We hope to keep many of these plants in place as we cultivate the space and add to it in the coming spring.”

Mary, who has lived in South Dakota where her mother was a teacher, said her school there had a greenhouse and it was enjoyed by everyone. “I’ve really wanted students to have this experience,” she said. “Watering plants and caring for them just calms people.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529- 2028 or [email protected].
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