Volunteers needed May 2 to help start the H-F organic garden

Bring your garden gloves and shovels to Homewood-Flossmoor High School between 9 a.m. and noon on May 2 and join three H-F students as they begin the community organic garden.

H-F students (from left) Marcia
Schwieterman, Julia
Schwieterman and Nora
Grasse have seedlings ready
to plant May 2 in the
community organic garden.

(Photo by Marilyn Thomas/
HF Chronicle)

Juniors Nora Grasse and sisters Julia and Marcia Schwieterman will direct volunteers as they move soil and organic compost in place and bed the seedlings for a garden that will have tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onions and and herbs. The yields will initially be used by culinary classes at H-F.  

The three students have been working on this project for months both for the high school and for the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement award for high school scouts. The three are members of Troop 60144.

This project was made possible by a $10,000 anonymous donation from an H-F alum who suggested an organic garden, according to Ann Cherry, director of Development & Alumni Relations. She, in turn, asked for advice from alumni Jennifer Ermshler, Maggie Bachus and Carrie Malfeo, who helped create an organic garden at Parker Junior High in Flossmoor. Bachus persuaded the Schwieterman family to volunteer and from that the garden project grew into a joint school/Girl Scout award project.

To better manage the project, Marcia took responsibility for the design and construction of the plot. Master gardener Jeanne Nolan of The Organic Gardeners Ltd. came to H-F in the fall and helped plot the garden for an area just southeast of the H-F greenhouse making certain it will get adequate sunlight. 

The garden will offer approximately 300 square feet of growing area. Julia has been working with Tom Wagner, H-F facilities manager, to get the site ready. She also got cooperation from Applied Academics Chair Kevin Thomas who put students to work sizing and cutting the 6-by-6 cedar planks that will mark off the garden. The timbers will be stacked to give height and lined with wire so that critters don’t get into the garden.

Nora is working as the education leader sharing insights into organic gardening, the value of fresh foods and getting fellow students involved in the project. She’s worked with the Zoobot Club (zoology and botany students) and the Environmental Vikings who will help plant the garden.

Although none of the three organizers has planned a college major in botany, they all say the project has been a great learning experience for them and that they’ve been delighted to share their knowledge with fellow students.

Now their role will be expanding to the community as they work with volunteers for the initial planting and throughout the summer months. If you can join the work crew on May 2 come by the greenhouse at the South Building.  Have a few hours to spare in the summer? Julia is looking for volunteers willing to tend the garden. You can contact her at [email protected] for details.


Contact Marilyn Thomas at [email protected]

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