Most of this spring felt like winter, but inside the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Science Center, spring has been well underway for months. The Abess Family Greenhouse is overflowing with cosmos, herbs, magnolias, carrots, sweet peas, bunches of kale and flowering squash thanks to the efforts of the gardening club, led by sisters Pia ’18 and Teagan Martindale ’20. Pia and Teagan formed their new club with a goal of bringing the benefits of gardening to the Peddie community.
“It’s a life skill.”
I think it’s a good outlet,” Pia said. “And gardening is a learning environment because you have to understand that certain plants need certain levels of sunlight and have certain germination periods, or that they might not work with the time that we’re given in school. There’s still that educational aspect to it, which is important. My mom gardens - a lot of adults do - and it’s good stress relief. It’s a life skill.”
Pia first had the idea for a Peddie gardening club in her sophomore year but ran up against obstacles: limited resources, limited interest and limited space. Her younger sister Teagan, now a sophomore herself, also expressed interest. That’s when the Martindale sisters learned about the greenhouse.
Full of life
The greenhouse has been part of the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Science Center since the beginning. Classes, clubs and teachers make use of the greenhouse’s resources for relevant lessons and projects, but the greenhouse has few permanent occupants. Pia and Teagan wanted to change that.
The gardening club currently has 20 members and a faculty advisor in staff nurse Katie Hulit '08. “Pia and Teagan's enthusiasm for the gardening club is contagious,” Hulit said. “Their peers have joined them in the greenhouse, planting seeds, repotting plants and happily getting their hands dirty. The club is teaching them how to tend and nurture living things, an invaluable lesson. They experience the joy when the seedlings first pop through the soil and pride when their time and dedication has resulted in vegetables and blossoms. The girls have spearheaded the entire project and really enjoy sharing the experience.”
Sustainable in every way
As for the future, the sisters are hoping that the gardening club becomes sustainable in every sense of the word. Pia will graduate this spring, but Teagan plans to keep the club going for the remainder of her Peddie career. “I hope to continue it next year and until I graduate,” said Teagan. “After that, it depends on the underclassmen. But for the next two years, I hope that it becomes a bigger part of the Peddie community.”