The Gardening Club’s Fruitful Labor of The Summer

Zachary Nedell also contributed to this article.

Yellow Marigolds thrive in one of the many planters built by the Garden Club. Photo by Zachary Nedell.

With a great start to the year after a productive summer, the Gardening Club is back in town to bring greenery to the high school and its students.

Over the break, students of the Gardening Club held several activities ranging from giving out and selling their stock, to working with the city, to being studied by Tufts, all while making a fair wage. 

“Tufts University worked with us… There was a graduate student named Yume Menghe Xu. She ran the garden kids over the summer, so she was in charge of the kids and meeting with them. [The students] wrote a journal about what they were doing in the garden, since they planted the vegetables, and they built some supports to hold up some of the vegetables. They repaired the [plant] beds because when they built the beds some of them were breaking down, so they had to repair them and they really just watched the plants to see what they needed,” said Kathy Maglio, one of the advisors.

Talking about the beginning of the collaboration with Tufts University, Xu, a Ph.D. student in STEM Education at Tufts University, mentioned her advisor, Professor Brian Gravel.

She mentioned how Gravel “has been working with… workshops for more than 10 years. And he has been working with [Ashley] Freeman to CO design the engineering curriculum of [a] modern high school. And at the end of last year, Ms. Freeman and Ms. Maglio reached out to us saying, ‘oh, we want to do some gardening related activities,’ so we started.”

Tufts also funded materials they had before and over the summer. Xu expressed that these funds were from the Lego Foundation and the National Science Foundation. She continued saying, “both of them fund engineering, we fund education research.”

Christopher Bazzinotti, the auto shop instructor, is responsible for the construction that helps plants grow. Bazzinotti wants plants to be self-sufficient through engineering design.

He added that while working with the 22 kids throughout the summer, “They all learned a little bit about construction, a little bit about green energy, [and] a little bit about installation. We learned about wind farms and all kinds of different resources that were renewable energies.”

Bazzinotti brainstorms with students in the club and practices the ideas in an attempt to turn them into reality.

He went on to explain the process by identifying what materials are needed, researching ways problems can be solved, planning, and then creating a draft to then test and make modifications. “We don’t just build it out of thin air and start with a problem,” he described.

A sunflower planted in one of the Garden Club’s planters. Photo by Zachary Nedell.

As he mentioned the process of making the plants self-sufficient, Bazzinotti explained, “It’s all about green energy, trying to live off the grid and trying to sustain a lifestyle that [is] not polluting the atmosphere and not creating any carbons or greenhouse gases.”

He explained a project with the MassCEC (Massachusets Clean Energy Center), that was given a grant of $250,000 from the state of Massachusetts to install solar energy in the Tiny House and give it clean energy. 

Belen Quispe Almendro, one of the Gardening Club members who created the garden, is currently a junior student. Almendro talked about this friendly cooperation with Tufts, expressing that Tufts provides a lot of resources that the garden needs, whether supplies or money. Tufts has researched and taught the engineering process to the Gardening Club members. The members “spread it to the young preschoolers.”

Chris Giordano remembered some of the teachers were gathering together in the fall and considering offering gardening opportunities during FLEX block. As they wish, it started right around January, and has to grow plants inside, because of the season and weather.

“We were growing plants just in water with nutrients,” he added. About the students, he mentioned, “The students designed the raised beds, made them found the soil to fill the raised beds, and did all the planting and watering themselves. And that brought us through to the end of the school year.” 

Giordano cheerfully said, “Over the course of the weeks, we were able to bring some of the plants home as well. So I got a basil plant that they had started growing here in the garden that they then sold at their garden party.” Giordano still has a large flourishing basil plant at his home.

For the plan of this school year, Maglio mentioned, “We have developed a garden club to help with the garden, so the plan is to close down the garden as the weather gets colder and we’re going to plant what’s called a cover crop. So it’s just some grass that will stay on the dirt in the garden beds in the boxes. And that’ll just protect the soil from erosion from getting blown away from the wind. And then in the winter, that grass will die and then they’ll just lay there for the winter. And then in the spring, we’ll plant some new vegetable plants. But in the winter, we’ll start some seedlings. We’ll plant some seeds maybe in January. And we’ll have those seeds grow big enough so that by April or May, they’ll be big enough to bring outside to plant in the outside garden.”

Freeman, the engineering class teacher, wishes it to be a community space and said, “They’ve been working on making signs to welcome people to the space and making benches making pathways. So it’s a place that’s not just for the garden club, but it should be a community space for everybody to enjoy.”

Julian Demora, one of the CO presidents on the board, has the same thought as Freeman and wishes people “Take what they need and what they want for their families or friends.”

A planter in the garden. Photo by Zachary Nedell.

Almendro is planning to redesign the inside of the tiny house with junior Megan Le who was previously involved in this club and still wants to do beneficial things for this club.

“I have been participating lately in the garden events, such as community service and having our own little stand. And I have helped create. I haven’t gotten to create more like little merchandise to sell to the public and to help raise money for the garden,” Almendro said.

Sandra Tang, junior and Social Media Coordinator for the Gardening Club, thinks gardening brought a really fun experience and it will not be boring.

Henry Zhao and Wilson Jiang, both seniors, think this is a good chance to enjoy nice green scenery since people often live in a polluted environment. In this club, they could enjoy and get plants that they grow.

Malden High School Principal Christopher Mastrangelo expressed, “The Gardening Club really sprang up.” 

Giordano encourages people who haven’t found anything that they are interested in for their FLEX to pick gardening and “see if it’s something that they would be interested in and find joy in.” Demora expressed, “We’re always looking for some new people to help volunteer; they don’t necessarily have to be in the club, but just to help out with watering and with anything that is.”

All members of the Gardening club are very enthusiastic about everything. They wish to create a place that allows people to relax and be social. Members will continue to work on their goal to make the Gardening club better.

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