By Kaitlyn Kuehn
ROGERS, ARK. — Last year’s discovery of some old pots sparked a particular scholar’s creativity, and after a long summer, she is ready to continue what she started the year before. This scholar, sophomore Lilly Wittersheim, started Haas Hall Rogers’s Gardening Club during the 2022-2023 school year. She said that, while helping a teacher search for something in the basement, she “found a bunch of old pots.”
These pots, she said, were from a prior gardening club that ceased to exist during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wittersheim said she asked around to see if anyone was using the pots, and upon being told that they were available for use, she did some research: the prior gardening club had a bank account, and there was money in it. All she needed was a sponsor, so she asked biology teacher Jordan Bush to help.
Since then, Wittersheim has put effort toward revitalizing the club. “This year,” she said, “Gardening Club is going to be a lot more hands-on than last year. Last year, we had a late start. But this year, (…) we’re gonna be planting seeds, we’re gonna be propagating, we have a job to decorate the PE room.”
In Wittersheim’s mission to help the Gardening Club grow, she partnered with a Haas Hall Rogers senior Kara Sperry to include herbalism in Gardening Club. “Kara’s lessons are going to be about how to use [our] plants for older medicines, modern-day medicine, and making salves,” Wittersheim said.
Further exemplifying how her club can help the local community, she added, “These plants are going to be going to other people’s homes… Last year, we had a plant sale (…) that corresponded with Mother’s Day, and we had houseplants.” The sale generated more revenue than expected, and she stated that she hopes the club will have more sales in the future, likely “at the end of both semesters.”
The club grows herbs and vegetables alongside house plants such as pothos, which Wittersheim said was relatively easy to grow and take care of since it is a propagatable plant ─ as Wittersheim said, “You can just take a mother plant, cut off a stem, stick it in a bottle of water, and it will sprout.”
Now that the Gardening Club is official, Wittersheim has a few goals. The year started with T-shirt sales to gain revenue, but aside from ensuring the club’s success, Wittersheim said, “I just want people to have fun.”
The Gardening Club remains open to anyone, and it is a way to be productive in a healthy and fun way. More than fun, though, Wittersheim noted, “I like watching the process of things flourishing.” With this comment, she was referring to both the plants in the club and the scholars that curate them ─ as well as the club itself.
“First, it was just me and Ms. Bush,” Wittersheim recalled, “but now we have our own shirts, we have so many things.” It is due to that growth that the Gardening Club is able to create long-term projects.
“We are going to decorate the PE room. We’re also going to utilize that as some of our space for growing,” Wittersheim added. She noted that, since some plants can brighten up an environment while they grow, she hopes the PE room will be a more inviting place with the addition of new, growing plants.
Despite initial hurdles, Wittersheim has led the Gardening Club to flourish, and she is not stopping anytime soon.