Garden club at Gary high school cultivates love of growing, nutrition education

As the blue tarp slid off the bright new greenhouse, a crowd of current and former West Side Leadership Academy students erupted into cheers. Standing on a patch of lawn tucked next to West Side's football stadium, Steve Heinold gestured to the wooden beds and plastic tubs overflowing with collards, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and wildflowers.

"We are hoping that this is something that can only grow from here," Heinold, associate director for Indiana GEAR UP, told the 30-some attendees on Thursday, the 29th of September. 

Students began by pouring over seed catalogs and selecting vegetables with intriguing names, like blonde cucumber and purple basil. Seedlings were started in small cups and placed under a grow light before being transferred to a borrowed greenhouse.

Over the winter, the greenhouse will be filled with flowers before it is used to start small seedlings in early spring. Bodie-Fernandez hopes to double the size of the garden over the next year. The greenhouse and the garden will be incorporated into West Side's science curriculum and after-school programming. 

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