Plant Sale Aims To Improve Maine West Greenhouse

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Plant Sale Aims To Improve Maine West Greenhouse

The current greenhouse at Maine West High School in Des Plaines. Plants currently growing in a classroom at Des Plaines’ Maine West High School are the first step in establishing a true greenhouse for the school. Project organizers will hold a plant sale open to the public to raise funds for the project during the school day, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Thursday, May 10 and Friday, May 11 at the school’s current greenhouse on Howard Avenue, just east of the school’s baseball field. Any leftover plants will also be sold Saturday, May 12. Katie Petersen, a behavioral redirect program facilitator at Maine West and former Des Plaines Curb Appeal contest winner, said the project was started last year by the National Honors Society. “My main interest is getting more kids involved in gardening,” Petersen said. To kick off the project, the society was awarded a $1,500 grant from the Maine Township High School Dist. 207 Educational Foundation last spring. Plants growing in Katie Petersen’s Maine West classroom. Jane Wisdom, society faculty advisor, said the student club’s former president Sanha Lim initiated the idea to establish a greenhouse at the plastic-sheeted greenhouse. This year, National Honors Society President Bhagirath Mehta carried the project forward. Recently inducted society officers for next school year also intend to continue Lim and Mehta’s efforts, Wisdom told the Journal & Topics. Like the nearby Homestead House, a renovated old farmhouse on the school grounds, the greenhouse is currently utilized by life skills and special needs students in the warmer months. Eventually, the National Honors Society hopes it could also be used by the biology department and for groups of middle school students. ‘We’re looking for input,” said Wisdom. “We would like to have it open year-round.” The greenhouse has been up for a few years, but needs significant renovations to be used all year, Petersen said. Polycarbonate siding, a secure door and grow lights would need to be added, exceeding the grant amount. Overall, Wisdom estimates it could take about two years to raise funds for all the necessary additions. For now, some funds provided by the Educational Foundation are being used to pay for the seeds taking root in Petersen’s classroom. An experienced gardener, Petersen began planting seeds in February to create a diverse base of plants for the greenhouse, including zinnias, marigolds, milkweed, garlic, pumpkins, cucumbers, snapdragons, African violets and more. “My classroom looks like a greenhouse right now,” she said.