New club to develop strong roots in plant conservation with sale

Allison Remcheck

Begonias, spider plants, ferns, aloe plants, geraniums, herbs, coffee and snacks are all in the entrance of Cunningham Hall.

These items are for sale from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and the profits go to the Plant and Conservation Club.

Heather Kirkpatrick, senior conservation major and historian of the club, said it is the Conservation Club’s first established semester on campus, and its goal is to help local areas preserve nature.

“We want to get people interested in plants,” Kirkpatrick said. “We want people to learn about plants and keep them on their own.”

Besides plants and goodies, the Conservation Club will also provide information about helping the environment at the table, in order to help promote its message.

These plants aren’t just typical garden plants. Besides the normal begonias and geraniums, the club has also started growing its own basil, thyme, sage and oregano, and is selling a variety of unusual plants, such as billbergias.

A billbergia is a tank plant in the pineapple family, Kirkpatrick said. Tank plant refers to the plant’s ability to sheave together its leaves and hold water inside of it.

The club is also selling maidenhair ferns.

“They look like little ginkgo leaves; they’re really cute,” Kirkpatrick said, and haworthias, which are succulents – a type of lily – look like a cactus without a spine.

Holly ferns, with a glossier leaf than regular ferns, are also available.

Most of the plants are houseplants, Kirkpatrick said, but many of the flowers and herbs can also be transplanted outside.

Half of the profits go to conservation around Portage County, Kirkpatrick said. The group wants to give Portage Parks herbicide because the park can’t afford to buy it. The other half is for the group’s field trips.

Chris Rizzo, director of the greenhouse, provided the seedlings for the club and is also providing the greenhouse space to raise them.

This new club has also been working a lot around campus, Kirkpatrick said, and is in the process of re-landscaping the gardens around the conservatory.

“This past Saturday a few of us came out and we worked all day in the (Riley) Alumni Garden,” she said. “We dug out all the weeds and we dug a new streambed.”

The streambed is man-made and dry, but will flow with rainwater, Rizzo said. It was built 30 years ago, and has to be dug out again every few years, he said.

The Conservation Club is going to continue to re-landscape the garden.

“This is so labor intensive,” Rizzo said. “If they could get this done, I would be thrilled.”

Members of the Conservation Club are going to stay at Kent during the summer to water the plants in the greenhouse, but are trying to sell as many as possible before the end of the school year.

The club is also trying to gather new members in the next couple of weeks.

“We want to try to reach out to the new freshmen and new majors to try to get them into conservation and the natural world,” Kirkpatrick said.

“I’d like to see our numbers grow and I’d like to see more projects done off campus,” she said. “There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be done in the natural world and we just need people to do it.”

The club consists mainly of biology and conservation majors, but Kirkpatrick said all majors, faculty and staff who are interested in plants are welcome to attend. They meet every other Wednesday at 5 p.m. in room 22 of Cunningham Hall.

“Plants are kind of the umbrella under which everything else survives,” she said.

Contact science reporter Allison Remcheck at [email protected].