Two teachers at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School have planted a new student club they hope will grow interest in a potential lifelong hobby.

The TMP Garden Club has been in the works for two years, but this fall marks the garden’s first significant harvest since planting began last year. Several new freshmen have joined the club this fall, and students seem enthusiastic about the project, said Spanish teacher Melissa Pinkney, one of two TMP teachers who sponsors the club. The other is Randy Brull, who teaches science.

The club had its first meeting last week to help with picking produce and planting fall crops.

“We picked hundreds of beans, and those kids were just, ‘Oh, can we eat these?’ ” Pinkney said with a chuckle. “They were hooked.”

The students are growing a variety of fresh produce, including cucumbers, peppers, onions, carrots and pumpkins. They also had a successful potato harvest during the summer months, when Pinkney and Brull continued tending the plants.

“We picked potatoes for a solid hour,” she said.

Garden Club members get first choice of the harvested vegetables, and leftovers will be used in the school cafeteria, Pinkney said, noting they are hoping to share their onions with the school later this fall.

Any extra food will be given to the St. Joseph Catholic Church Food Pantry on 13th Street to help those in need.

Pinkney is an avid gardener and said she wanted to teach students the skill for several years. It was a slow process to make the idea a reality, as a location had to be identified and prepared for planting.

Last year’s students were the first to participate, but at that point, it wasn’t easy to see much progress, she said.

“It was a lot of gathering kids, and then we’d take them out there and it’s just a plot of grass,” Pinkney said. “It was very hard to tell the kids this is going to be something.”

The club is open to all TMP high school students and meets occasionally after school so the students can help with weeding, harvesting and planting as needed.

Organizers already are hoping to continue growing the project by expanding the garden plot and trying new produce varieties.

While gardening can be a stress-reliever, it also is beneficial because it gets the students outside and teaches them about work ethic and responsibility, she said.

And it provides a valuable learning opportunity for the students — many of whom didn’t even know where green beans come from.

“I don’t think they realize where the food comes from,” she said. “They especially did not know how a green bean grew on a plant.

“I think it’s still important, since we are a farming community — we do live in Kansas — it is important just to know where the food comes from, or even what it looks like.”