Plant, harvest, eat

Group of incoming freshmen get an advanced lesson in botany and horticulture; also make a batch of salsa from tomatoes harvested in the school's greenhouse.

Nine members of Notre Dame Prep's incoming freshman class got a chance last week to learn a little bit about botany, horticulture, agriculture and how plants play a huge role in their lives. The students, who also were part of the school's summer camps program, began the afternoon Thursday exploring the outside gardens and greenhouse, which is located adjacent to the Easterwood science, art and technology wing that opened in the fall of last year. 

"The kids assisted me in pruning and training the hydroponic tomatoes, and we harvested three bins full as well, said Carolyn Tuski, Notre Dame's botany teacher and greenhouse manager. "After watering the plants in the greenhouse, we moved to a discussion on terrariums."

Tuski said they talked about terrarium history and their uses, and why plants are able to survive in them. 

"We then created our own open terrariums using glass containers, sand, rocks, charcoal, moss, soil, and of course, the plants. In our case, it was a variety of succulents and cacti," she said. "We discussed the importance of each layer in the base and what it does for the plant."

After the terrarium lessons, the freshmen got back to work on the harvested hydroponic tomatoes by cutting them up and making their own homemade salsa.

"We also made guacamole from a few store-bought ingredients since some of our produce wasn't quite ready yet," Tuski said. "Actually, a few of the students preferred to eat the tomatoes like an apple! 

"We really had a great afternoon of learning and community building," she added. "They are a great group of students and I can't wait to work with them in the future. They are a wonderful addition to our Notre Dame family."

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About Notre Dame 
Notre Dame is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named Michigan's best 50 Catholic high school three of the last four years ( Notre Dame's lower and middle schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All Notre Dame schools have been authorized by International Baccalaureate as "World Schools" and the entire institution is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers. It is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame, visit the school's home page at