Senior starts gardening club, takes horticulture to revitalize school’s greenhouse

Brennan Guilds

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Sherwood, Gaithersburg, Walt Whitman, Seneca Valley, and Clarksburg. What do all these schools have in common? They have a greenhouse and make use of it. But what you may not have known is that Watkins Mill has one too.

The Gardening Club was started by senior Harrison Deist. “I wanted to make use of the greenhouse but [horticulture teacher Vincent] Naylor said I had to have a club in order to use it, so I started a club,” Deist said. “I became interested in gardening because I like food and the idea of creating life interests me.”

Deist started it as a hobby over the summer but continued by taking the horticulture class offered by the school and then by starting the gardening club. Watkins Mill has had a greenhouse since it first opened in 1989, and it has been operated in all its endeavors by horticulture teacher Vincent Naylor.

“It had been about four years since the greenhouse was last used. It’s not in the same condition it used to be in,” Naylor said. “Once, we had a partnership where we would raise fish in exchange for the equipment needed to raise them.” 

They used the equipment to set up a fully hydroponic system for growing plants more effectively. A hydroponic system is one that uses water instead of soil as a growing medium. Although the greenhouse has come very far from its heyday and in somewhat of a state of disrepair today, Deist has dreams for it. “I just want it to be fully functional and full of plants, to be honest,” Deist added.

“A while ago someone was trying to close the vents that regulated the temperature in the greenhouse and walked away with it on, and when they came back it didn’t stop and actually torqued the bar and burned out the motor, so that no longer works,” Naylor said reflecting on some of the downfalls.

“I’m always looking for people to help out and who are interested. If you know me, you can talk to me about it. I’m in there almost every day at STEP watering plants,” Deist said.

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