Olathe & Southwest Joco

Olathe elementary school kids dig the Horticulture Club

When the work is done for members of the Horticulture Club, hands must be washed.
When the work is done for members of the Horticulture Club, hands must be washed.

Lots of things are growing at Heritage Elementary School in Olathe: edibles like cucumbers, cantaloupes and onions, as well as decorative plants like sunflowers and marigolds.

Growing, too, is the fifth-grade Horticulture Club that nurtures all those plants.

The club, in its second year, now numbers more than 20 students. Last year, only 11 fifth-graders signed up.

“I think the excitement of seeing the garden grow, and especially the opportunity to eat the produce, has doubled our membership,” said second-grade teacher Jennifer Enochs, who sponsors the club along with her third-grade colleague Nicole Carlson and physical education teacher Jay Parsons.

Club members have become familiar with “deadheading” and other gardening terms while growing zinnias and other flowering plants from seed. They’ve tended cucumbers, cantaloupes, watermelons, tomatoes, onions and potatoes in the vegetable section, and this fall, they meticulously planted lettuce and radish seeds in neat rows.

“We have talked to students about saving seed, enjoying the harvest and planting seeds,” Parsons said.

Also contributing to the effort were members of the district’s grounds maintenance crew, who built a new raised bed outside the window of Enochs’ second-grade classroom.

“We had a few raised beds by the playground years ago and planned to use those to start our Horticulture Club,” Enochs said. “When the Operations Service Center team was at our school to install new playground equipment, they noticed how dated our raised beds were and built us a brand new one.”

The work done by the fifth-graders has not escaped the notice of other students.

“It’s so great to see how excited the students across the entire school are when they see the garden,” Enochs said. “A kindergartner even told me we had ‘pickles’ in our garden.”