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Class teaches students to grow, give back

Staff writer

Everyone but a toad that was forced from its cool hideaway in a flowerbed downtown appreciated the plants Peabody-Burns horticulture students planted Thursday in front of Flint Hills Gypsies.

Two beds were planted for residents who asked for their assistance. Teacher Ann Leppke said the class has done several similar projects over the year to give back to the community.

“Each year we plant in the park, cemetery, and if we have enough, in a bed at the corner of the football field,” Leppke said.

This year the class is also planting pots for downtown. They’ve also planted pots for residents who ask.

“They pay for the plants, then bring us the pots and tell us to do something pretty with them,” she said.

There are seven students that make up the horticulture class. Leppke teaches it along with Ryan Panko. The class raises their own plants from seeds and cuttings all year, to sell in the spring to residents. The proceeds from the plants help re-supply the greenhouse.

Every year Leppke takes the students to a seed supplier where they purchase seeds for plants grown annually, and pick out a few new varieties.

“It makes each year different,” she said. “It also gives the students the chance to grow some things they want. Some things work and grow well, others don’t.”

Leppke OKs the selections based on how the plants will do in the area.

“We typically try to grow things that are drought resistant and heat tolerant,” she said.

She said the class is important because it teaches the students where their food comes from.

“Kids need to know where things come from and it’s important they know how to grow it so they respect people who do,” Leppke said.

A previous student told Leppke the class had turned her into a gardener.

“That was the greatest complement I ever received,” Leppke said.

Alec Balke said he enjoys the class because he likes working with the plants, but not so much clearing flowerbeds.

“I’ve learned how to not kill plants,” he said.

This year in conjunction with the culinary arts class, the students planted basil and made different types of pesto and pasta.

“The kids loved it,” Leppke said. “They’ll do just about anything for food.”

She plans to plant more herbs to cook with next season.

Last modified May 15, 2014

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