Greenhouse club still growing

Published 9:16 am Tuesday, December 29, 2015

(Submitted photo)

(Submitted photo)

Update: A previous version of this story stated that Polly Judd wrote the grant proposal submitted to Midwest Energy; the writer was actually Lisa Thorne. This fact has been corrected in the story.

Midwest Energy Cooperative helped power-up another Dowagiac schools initiative earlier this month.

The local energy company awarded the Dowagiac Union High School Greenhouse Club with a check worth $1,300, through the organization’s Strengthening Schools program. The Greenhouse was one of two grant award winners from the company, the other being Dowagiac Middle School instructor Jennifer Winters, who received nearly $2,500 to purchase new equipment for her computer classes.

Called to the greenhouse for an unknown purpose that morning, the members of the club had no idea they were about to receive a much-needed contribution to their operation. When representatives with Midwest revealed the purpose of their visit — a ceremonial check — the students were elated, crying and shouting in celebration of their achievement, said club advisor Dee Herman.

“It was an awesome surprise,” Herman said.

The money from the grant will go toward the purchase of plants and gardening equipment over the next several years for the club, Herman said. In addition, some of the money will be spent on improvements for the high school greenhouse’s lighting and other needs.

Herman, a computer technician with the school district, is a member of the Dowagiac Town and Country Garden Club, which helped create the high school gardening club late last year.

The student club, which meets at least once a month inside the once-abandoned school greenhouse, is designed to show students the basics of gardening and growing. Earlier this year, members of the club grew flowers and tomato and pepper plants.

“Some of the kids had no idea where this stuff came from,” Herman said. “When they saw the seeds they planted earlier in the year turn into tiny plants, it was like Christmas morning for them.”

During the non-growing months in fall and winter, the dozen or so members have instead turned their focus to decorating the greenhouse courtyard and fixing up the miniature pond located just outside the structure, Herman said.

Herman and other members of the Town and Country club continue to advise students participating in the greenhouse. In fact, it was Town and Country club member Polly Judd who suggested the greenhouse club apply for the grant, Herman said. Lisa Thorne, an employee with the school district, wrote the grant application for the club, working with advisors to come up with suggestions for the money, based on what the students wanted for the greenhouse.

“It’s really important to us to let the kids make the decisions,” Herman said. “We listen to what they want to do.”

The club will meet next month to decide what projects to work on for upcoming year, Herman said.