Horticulture class teaches urban kids gardening and about life

Nathan Hale students growing plants and helping to reshape young lives

SEATTLE — High school students get down and dirty learning how to plant and garden. How the fruit of their labor will help others in our community.

Nathan Hale High School has been teaching urban kids how to garden for decades.

They are growing plants and helping reshape young lives.

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It's sixth period at Nathan Hale High School and teacher Matt Davis is corralling a class of students. Their venue is a hot, humid greenhouse.

But for many of these students this has become a kind of refuge.

"I always heard like there was a greenhouse in the school," admitted Savannah Johnson, a senior. "But my teacher was like really adamant about it. And then I just came in one day."

It has opened up a whole new world for Savannah.

"It's like my favorite class," she said. "And I'm also a part of the club, too. It's a lot of fun."

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​But that fun involves more than just getting their hands dirty. It's helping them figure out what works for them.

"I just really like horticulture," said Jaidyn Larson, a senior. "It's really interesting. Like I have a garden at home. Like I have a bunch of plants. And I was like might as well join the class."

Davis came to Nathan Hale to teach science after a career in the restaurant business. He says his students are doing more than playing in the dirt.

"So they learn a little bit about what it's like to have a professional career in general and horticulture and in agriculture," Davis said. "And then they also learn all kinds of science objectives, like what our food cycle is. How we can work on getting equity in the food cycle. And then also just the day-to-day of taking care of plants and learning all about what they need to grow."

And the students are growing in wisdom, too.

"You're kinda like helping the environment," said Brooke Hammrich, a junior. "And you're taking a step back from yourself and a step forward for the environment."

The students say they are digging this not just because they get to play in the dirt because they are learning about the value of soil and the things that grow out of it. And for some of them, this is so enticing, they are considering it as their life's work.

"I'm trying to study agricultural sciences," said Savannah. "I'm more interested in like the science of it, like cultivation and stuff like that."

On Mother's Day, these plants will be sold. Some of it will be donated to food banks. Whatever is left over, kids are allowed to take home.

Their labor teaching them lessons that will bear fruit for a lifetime.