Growing Your Garden: Going Green at CB

Nature is a beautiful present from the Earth to our lives as it gives us plants we eat, cotton we weave, and flowers we gift to our loved ones. But with everyday advances, it only gets harder for people to make time in their day to plant or take care of the Earth. This includes […]

Nature is a beautiful present from the Earth to our lives as it gives us plants we eat, cotton we weave, and flowers we gift to our loved ones. But with everyday advances, it only gets harder for people to make time in their day to plant or take care of the Earth. This includes the younger generations with their schooling, jobs, and after school activities. How can we help the environment whilst juggling our other responsibilities? 

Well, we can start small.

Christian Brothers teachers and students share a love for greenery in their own ways. History teacher Ms. Achara Jones’ love of gardening started in childhood and continues to influence her everyday life, as shown through her various growing plants in her classroom. 

“I love gardening!” Jones says. “Gardening is a blend of trial, error, and the beauty of learning from both successes and failures. My passion for gardening blossomed from my grandmother’s (Nana’s) green thumb. Throughout my childhood, I discovered the joy of tending to plants and nurturing their growth.” 

While Ms. Jones’s passion started early, Jackson Guess (‘24) found his love for gardening after taking an environmental sustainability engineering program that motivated him to become an environmental engineer. This newfound interest led to the creation of a gardening club at Christian Brothers. With his co-president and friend, Camilo Guerrero (’24), they founded the Sustainable Gardening Club.

“I figured a way to incorporate environmental ideas would be through a gardening club,” Jackson explains. “My house has always had some sort of small garden, nothing huge, but it’s always had vegetables over the summer and that introduced me to wanting to garden more often.”

“My dad and I would build boxes to make a home garden,” Camilo adds. “He started planting peppers and zucchini, and I thought, ‘Hey, that’s pretty cool.’”

Both co-presidents started the Sustainable Gardening Club together in hopes of expanding their knowledge and influence of botany to Christian Brothers students. Their unique approach to gaining members by giving out butter lettuce and flowers for each member that joined caught attention all over the school. Students walking around holding the cute plants caught the attention of others, and soon lines formed at the chance to obtain a cute plant friend. 

Incorporating plants into daily life can be a struggle, but finding a good in-between can be better for the plant and the person.

“Finding a balance that suits me is key,” Ms. Jones says. “Caring for indoor plants isn’t particularly challenging since they don’t require frequent watering. I’ve incorporated my plants into the classroom dynamic by involving the students as well.”

Upon first glance, Ms. Jones’ classroom has an abundance of indoor plants. Lining the windows sits various flora, all facing the sun as students learn. Oftentimes she will offer her students the chance to water her plants. Incorporating her love for plants in her classroom brings her a sense of tranquility. 

Jackson admits that while taking care of plants is time consuming, he tends to take care of low maintenance plants that don’t affect his schedule. He leans towards plants such as herbs and other year-round flora that enhances his life. 

“It’s not that hard,” Guess says. “They just need water and fresh soil.”

Camilo shares the busy schedule many other students have, so although he has a love for plants, he says he doesn’t have the time to maintain and take care of plants. 

“I’m busy a lot. I don’t have as much time to make a garden, as much as I would love to,” he laments. For what he can’t contribute to his own personal gardening, he puts into club meetings, often taking care of many aspects in the club. 

For those interested in planting and gardening, it’s important to start tiny and grow bigger as you go along.

“I would suggest starting small and gradually expanding your garden and plants as you gain experience. There are a ton of low maintenance plants that are easy and beginner friendly,” Ms. Jones advises. “Research the plants you’re thinking about and what they require and go from there.”

Research into plants can seem as simple as a Google search. However, a lot of time and consideration should be taken before going out and buying what suits your fancy. Temperatures, access, tools, and time should always be put into consideration before picking out plants. Plants that are great for beginners are herbs and succulents as they are indoor plants that require minimal watering and are best for people with busy schedules but still enjoy watching things thrive in their homes. 

“I would say to start small, because even if you look up what a garden is, it’s a small plot of land. It can be as small as a shoe box or a drawer,” Jackson recommends. “And don’t beat yourself up if something dies, especially if it’s your first time.” 

He continues on to say that many other contributing factors aid to the success or failure of growing a plant, whether that be temperature, seasons, humidity, and space. Growing plants is the easy part. Maintaining them is where many plant enthusiasts find themselves stuck. 

“Just keep trying,” Jackson says. “Eventually you’ll grow something amazing that will make your home even prettier.”

Different plants are best grown at different times of the year, and Ms. Jones utilizes the seasons, with her classroom always changing along with the seasons.  

“As summer approaches, my focus shifts towards tending to my outdoor garden,” Ms. Jones admits. “I enjoy planting a variety of plants, especially ones my dogs like.  Sunflowers are a particular favorite, as well as vegetables like eggplant, carrots, squash, and cucumber.”

“Going into winter, it’s not the best time to start planting. But garlic, Swiss chard, and lettuce are the best plants I can think of [for winter],” Jackson shares. “There are also plants that you can start from the groceries you buy.”

It’s simple to start gardening when all the tools are set out for you. Groceries, including vegetables, make it easy to place the roots into water and allow the plant to grow. While it is a good start to buy a grown plant from Home Depot, the resources you have at home are just as valuable. 

Taking care of another thing can be therapeutic, and in a strange cycle, comes back to taking care of yourself. Being able to grow something proudly can lead to having to look forward to something, no matter how small. Ms. Jones shows this proudly through her classroom, a lush indoor garden for her students, as well as herself, to enjoy to its fullest potential. 

“Gardening is a wonderful hobby that offers numerous benefits,” Ms. Jones concludes. “It allows you to connect with nature, relieve stress, and for me enjoy the satisfaction of nurturing and watching plants grow. It also can enhance the beauty of your surroundings.”

Going outside and taking care of things that you care about brings a sense of self-worth and satisfaction to life. When things get tough, there’s always something that needs you. Gardening can be a way to separate yourself from your own life and put it to work caring for another. The Gardening Club was inspired by Jackson’s aunt and uncle’s garden, where the food they ate came from the backyard. It also inspired Guess to make a club where he and Camilo could share their passion and aspirations for gardening with the students of Christian Brothers High School. 

“The club is open to anyone, even if you’re not planning on starting a garden. If you just want to learn for the future or hang out with friends, you’re allowed to join,” Jackson says. “And just know that gardens don’t always need to be impressive or successful to help the world that we live in.”

From a teacher and a student’s perspective, gardening is a simple and fun hobby that holds its use in their daily life. So take this opportunity to look around you, pick up some seeds, soil, and a pot, and watch it grow. 

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