Junior Heather Bassman flicks the cap off her plastic water bottle. Rather than raising it to her mouth, she lowers it to a tray of fresh soil and seedlings, tilting the bottle to maintain a steady trickle of water over each plant. Satisfied, she caps the bottle and sets it to the side. As president of MV Sprouts, Bassman is ready to continue the club’s legacy with a new officer team and a fresh gardening space.
Roots of the club
Bassman has enjoyed observing plants for as long as she can remember, but her passion for gardening was kindled during her sophomore year. Over the school year, she discovered many unique plants on her way to school and would often observe them just to relieve her stress. Eventually, she created an Instagram account to document the plants that left an impression on her. Beyond enjoying the physical beauty of plants, Bassman also carries emotional ties to gardening.
“There’s this little plant that I got from my grandma at Christmas and it was very, very tiny. It only had two really small leaves to it. Between December and October, it now has so many leaves. It’s getting so big – I’m so proud of my big boy.” — Junior Heather Bassman
In the 2017-18 school year, MV Sprouts’ entire officer line consisted of seniors, who were tasked with finding a new set of officers to succeed them. Bassman’s love for gardening and her experience with plants earned her the role of president of MV Sprouts.
Sophomore Shreya Maanavi was also selected as an officer for MV Sprouts, and she currently serves as the club’s social manager. When Maanavi was in elementary school, she began to garden in her backyard with her father. She had always enjoyed gardening, and reminisces of the time when she planted tulips with her grandmother.
MV Sprouts members have planted their seedlings into the club's grow cart and are ready to water them.
Maanavi’s path to becoming an officer of MV Sprouts was unexpected. She initially attended the club’s interest meeting after noticing an announcement on Schoolloop.
“I always had fond memories of planting and I wanted to get back into it," Maanavi said. "I went to the informational meeting, not knowing that there were officer positions — I just wanted to join the club. Since there were, I just tried out for it and I got the social manager position.”
Since MV Sprouts’ origins, its gardening space has moved several times. Its initial garden was located by the recent construction of the B building, before it was relocated to a temporary space by the student parking lot. After construction on the parking lot, the garden was then moved to a spot beside the bike racks, where MVHS administration promises it will stay.
After the change in leadership within MV Sprouts, Bassman and Maanavi have put a lot of work into preparing the new gardening space. According to club adviser Kyle Jones, Bassman is doing a good job handling obstacles, including changes in the garden’s management and an additional class sharing the garden. The current gardening space measures 50 feet by 40 feet.
“I feel like it’s a nice place because we know it’s going to be permanent and the school is going to let it be there,” Maanavi said. “Also, it’s a pretty big piece of land. The only thing is that it’s on a slant so that might be a little bit of a problem. Also, a lot of people walk there so we’re going to have to keep it clean. But it’s still a really nice place to garden.”
MVHS administration has assigned MV Sprouts its current gardening space beside the bike racks.
Aside from settling on its gardening space, MV Sprouts has been working to develop a manageable system for members to grow their own plants.
“It’s super simple,” Bassman said. “We give detailed instructions and we try to monitor and walk them through the steps, just so that we don’t set them up for failure. If we just gave them the instructions and had them do it by themselves, they could be missing a key portion of it. So all our officers are trying to be on it and help people on an individual level, which is really nice because then people get the most out of that.”
Seedlings grow in the MV Sprouts grow cart under a specialized lighting tray.
Members begin to grow their seedlings using an indoor grow cart with specialized lighting. After about two to four weeks, the seedlings are ready to be transferred to pots. Bassman shares that members will be able to create their own recycled pots out of objects such as shoes and bottles in an attempt to reuse old materials in creative ways. After potting their plants, members will be able to take their plants home or transfer them to the garden.
Goals for the future
Beyond preparing the garden and aiding members in planting their own seeds, Bassman, Maanavi and Jones have many hopes for the future of MV Sprouts.
Maanavi is interested in planting fruits and vegetables and sharing it with teachers at MVHS. According to her, previous officers would keep the produce or give some to Jones, but Maanavi plans to share the food with even more teachers.
“I was talking to my Chinese teacher. I brought a plant for Club Promo Day and she was just like ‘What is this club about?’ She jokingly asked me, ‘Do other teachers get the food?’ But I think that’s a really good value because teachers should be appreciated and they should be able to have some of the things that we make in the garden.” — Sophomore Shreya Maanavi
Jones is also enthusiastic about the future of MV Sprouts. He would personally like to shape the garden into a landmark for students on campus.
“Once the garden gets going, it could be a place where students come to enjoy the garden,” Jones said. “Our goal is to have a bench in there, a little pergola, so students can sit and relax in the garden. One of my ideas that I’m hoping we can work on is putting in a little pond, a little aquaculture style pond where we can have some little fish in there and some plants and things like that.”
Senior Heather Bassman waters current seedlings in MV Sprouts' grow cart.
Beyond these goals for the school year, MV Sprouts is striving to simply blend in with the landscape of MVHS, becoming a feature of the school itself. Its officers and adviser will continue to put in work to maintain the club’s original vision.
“Our main goal, if you think about mission statement and overarching idea, is we would like to create a garden on campus that students can enjoy both aesthetically and recreationally, but also is something that is a beautiful landmark for the campus,” Jones said. “So it becomes part of the campus and it becomes considered an aspect of the campus and students can access it.”