About 25 students, teachers, administrators and community members joined forces and braved the cold and soggy conditions last month to plant an orchard on the campus of Munster High School. The orchard is part of an ongoing STEM project at Munster High School called project GREEN.
Project GREEN, which stands for Growing and Rewarding Educational Endeavors Naturally, is a three- to five-year interdisciplinary project engaging students in hands-on, experiential learning activities through the creation of a 21st century school garden and orchard.
About 350 students will participate in the project over time, including classes such as botany, computer science, engineering, art, family and consumer science, and more.
The project involves working together to create two distinct garden spaces within the interior courtyards of the school. The first garden space is located in the north courtyard, which houses the school’s greenhouse. Students have begun to plant tomatoes, carrots, and radishes from seed in the greenhouse and will soon transplant them into one of three raised beds that were also built by students.
The larger central courtyard is home to the student-designed orchard. The orchard planting component was led by Master Gardener and Purdue Extension Educator Nikky Witkowski. Under Wittkowski’s guidance, students were digging and planting raspberry bushes, as well as cherry and pear trees.
“Being dwarf varieties,” Wittkowski explained, “the trees will only grow to about 8 feet tall and will need to be staked into the ground for support, but should begin to bear fruit in three to five years.”
Munster High School has partnered with organizations such as the Munster Garden Club and Purdue University Extension to make this project come to life.