Wiscasset Middle High School

500 tomato seeds plus many hands equal learning, fundraising

Posted:  Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - 7:15am

In a Wiscasset Middle High School science classroom Friday, Ralph Keyes's students donned dust masks to mix soil and washed their hands to keep healthy the tomato seeds they were preparing to plant in trays.

Morris Farm co-president Merry Fossel works with students each year on the project that gets teens combining soil and water, counting, planting and labeling seeds, watering and transplanting the plants into pots and giving them to the Gardiner Road nonprofit. The plants go into an annual fundraising sale; this year's is May 19, Fossel said.

The plants will spend their first weeks at WMHS before students load them onto a Morris Farm volunteer’s vehicle bound for the farm, where they will harden ahead of the sale, Keyes and Fossel said. Some students may also help at the sale, Keyes said. He and Fossel said the hands-on work of planting and tending the seeds and seedlings is part of the project’s value.

The work takes responsibility, Keyes said. He told the class to take care in the labeling so buyers will get what they think they are getting. The sale has some shoppers who like the heirloom tomato plants so much, they come back year after year for them, Fossel added.

Master gardener-volunteer Beth Maxwell of Wiscasset oversaw students as they poured water into a tub of soil and mixed with their hands. She likened the mixture to a brownie mix. Freshman Lee Jewett said he learned to take his time mixing so the tomatoes got the right amount of water.

“It’s a lot of fun,” fellow ninth grader Savannah Roberts said of the mixing.

Keyes also cited the chance the project gives students to do some good for the community by raising the plants to benefit Morris Farm.

"I think it's pretty cool to do this, because Morris Farm does a lot," freshman Jade Shipley said as she and sophomore Maize Hagerman counted seeds together. "When I was little, I had a lot of fun with the Morris Farm," Shipley said.

Fossel said the project involves about 500 seeds.The ones Shipley and Hagerman were counting from one envelope were projected to number about 30. Said Hagerman as she counted the last seed, "31!"