HOMER — There may be snow on the ground and temperatures may be dropping, but inside the 50-foot-by-25-foot greenhouse behind Homer High School, everything is green.
Tasty mint, rosemary, oregano. Leafy carrot, leek and potato tops reaching for the light. Crinkly lettuce. The brilliant red and green of Swiss chard. Aloe, coleus and spider plants. Flowering mums. Poinsettias for the holidays. Jars of sprouts ready to eat.
The dozen students in the natural resources class, taught by Francie Roberts, are hard at work growing a variety of herbs, vegetables and house plants in boxes they built themselves. The project is a joint effort, drawing in support from around the community. For instance, soil was donated by Al Poindexter of Anchor Point Greenhouse. Some of the plants came from Rita Jo Shoultz of Fritz Creek Gardens. Tips for combining different types of sprouts came from Cathy Ulmer. Moving heavy items was made possible with a small dump truck owned and operated by Beauregard Burgess.
“We’ve had lots of people in the community help us,” said Roberts.
The students span a wide range of gardening abilities. Some are discovering their green thumbs. Naomi Weddle reports on the sunflower plants she’s growing at home. Kevin Rowe is the Alaska FFA president. He follows in the footsteps of Corinne Ogle, 2010 HHS graduate, who was the state president last year.
Harley Wells checks on plants he and his Homer High School classmates grew.
In the classroom, student gardeners research plants for which each of them is responsible. Naomi focuses on the needs of wheat grass she’s growing in the greenhouse in flats. Grace Steiner looks up the requirements of lavender she has planted.
What their research reveals is put into practice in the greenhouse.
“You’ve got to get them through three more weeks,” Roberts tells the watering, weeding and rearranging students, reminding them that some of the plants will be sold at the Nutcracker Faire the first weekend in December. “You’ve got to keep them alive.”
Proceeds will help pay for supplies.
“This is a one-semester class, but we’re hopeful it will be two semesters,” Roberts said. “It’s a really good class.”