How does your garden grow?

Margaret Hundley shows Maria Bauerle, left, and Elliot Richardson, right, how she checks the plant pods for roots that might need to be trimmed on the Tower Garden in the Sabetha Elementary School library.

Year-round gardening paves the way for students to nurture healthy eating habits.

This year, students at the Sabetha Elementary School are learning a new way to garden. With funds collected from several local businesses, the elementary school was able to purchase a Tower Garden. The tower provides year-round, indoor gardening. With no soil, no weeds and an automatic watering system, it is especially ideal for beginners with no gardening experience. 

The inspiration

Chris Bauerle, left, and Marcia Bauerle, right, stand by the Tower Garden in the Sabetha Elementary School library.

Margaret Hundley, a former charge nurse, is partnered with a company that promotes healthy living and she has embraced its biggest goal — to eat more fruits and vegetables. 

“I was inspired to get a Tower Garden for myself when our daughter Rachel had purchased one. Her, then 10-year old son, Aiden, assembled the tower by himself and her then, six-year old daughter, Carys, would confidently tell me what each plant was and then eat the greens right off the tower!” Hundley said.

“After having phenomenal success with my Tower Garden and after personally meeting Stephen Ritz, urban farmer and creator of the Green Bronx Machine,” Hundley said. “I was inspired to bring this concept to my community since outdoor

Different varieties of lettuce are grown on the Tower Garden in the Sabetha Elementary School library.

year-round growing is not easy in this area.”

As fate would have it, during one of Hundley’s visits to the high school greenhouse, Chris Bauerle, the Agriculture teacher, voiced a desire to get tower gardens for all three Sabetha school libraries. However, Sabetha Middle School does not currently have a Tower Garden.

“Since I am a partner of the company and know the benefits of owning a Tower Garden, I offered to help him with the task and he accepted,” Hundley said.

Benefits to students

Second grader Elliot Richardson, left, and kindergartener Maria Bauerle, right, stand proudly with the Tower Garden in the Sabetha Elementary School library.

“Bringing this into school classrooms is even more exciting, especially when the kids’ faces light up when they plant the seed and watch it grow.” Hundley said.

“By getting children involved, it provides them with an opportunity to grow their own food, nurture healthy habits and they learn to value the work of who grows the food,” Hundley said. “The more veggies kids grow, the more veggies they will eat.”

The students are already enjoying the benefits that tower gardening has to offer. Even the youngest students have been able to help with the tower. Hundley explained that Maria Bauerle, a kindergarten student, helped her to put one of the plant pods back in after trimming the roots.

Enjoying the harvest

Marcia Bauerle, the elementary school librarian, enjoys having a Tower Garden in her library. There is minimal time and labor involved in growing the crops in the tower. The main chore is to keep water in the container. The tower has an automatic watering system that continuously cycles water and nutrients over the plants’ roots.

The Tower Garden in Mr. Richardson’s fourth grade class at Sabetha Elementary School.

“I probably spend about 15 minutes a week on the Tower Garden, watering, cleaning and harvesting.” Marcia Bauerle said.

She currently has lettuce varieties and small leaf cabbage. She also included some petunias for fun and color. She said that the kids like to look at it, especially the flowers which they would love to pick. She plans to add herbs to the garden in the future.

In Nick Richardson’s fourth grade class, they also have a tower, but it was funded differently from the librarys’. They harvest and get to eat the lettuce varieties that they grow. 

The Tower Garden at Sabetha High School is located inside the greenhouse.

Donating Businesses

Local businesses that helped donate to the Sabetha Elementary School Tower Garden are Hartter Seed, Edelman’s Home Center, Sabetha Greenhouse, Printing Impressions, Country Mart, Eclipse Salon, 1005 Salon, Edward Jones, Buzz Café, Morrill and Janes Bank, Dr. Terry Whitten, Dr. Betsy Tedman and Dr. Bill Simpson.

Fourth grader Jackson Lang stands by the Tower Garden with a lettuce harvest in Mr. Richardson’s class at Sabetha Elementary School.

About Margaret Hundley

Hundley, and her husband John, raised their two children, Rachel and Matthew, in Bern. They currently live in Sabetha. She says their two grandchildren, Aiden, 16 and Carys, 12, bring them much joy. After working as a charge nurse for many years and not ready to retire, she currently works as a purchasing agent for the Apostolic Christian Home. In recent years, she has also partnered with a health and wellness company whose mission is to inspire people to live a healthier lifestyle. Caring for sick people as a nurse was rewarding but she now enjoys being on the preventative aspect with this sidegig.

Anyone who would like more information you can contact her at maggiemae21@hotmail.com.

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