Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Seeds to Mt. Everest

World Record

Winchester Public School Sending Seeds to

Top of Mount Everest

(Winchester) - Winchester Public School is making big news sending tiny seeds on a monumental climb up one of the world’s tallest mountains in a voyage meant to inspire interest in gardening.

Under the guidance of Educational Assistant Jeff Arsenault, students have launched the Seeds to Mount Everest project. The project is sending 5,000 sunflower seeds to the top of Mount Everest over the next few weeks with climbers participating in an International Mountain Guides (IMG) expedition. The school is working with Tacoma, Washington-based adventurer Eric Simonson, who helps run IMG guided trips to the top of the world’s most famous mountain and is currently leading a climb expected to hit the peak in mid May. Simonson is sending regular e-mails to the students reporting on the progress of the climb.

Arsenault devised the plan a few months ago as a way to help students take part in a neat horticultural project and to inspire a love of gardening. The idea is to send the seeds to the top of the mountain and then later redistribute them to elementary students across North America to grow over the summer months. Students will be asked to report back on any changes in the sunflower plants resulting from the exposure of the seeds to high altitudes.

“I’m always looking for a way to manipulate people into gardening,” says Arsenault with a grin. “I’m doing this to spread the message that gardening really is cool.”

He hopes the novel seeds will spark an interest in gardening among the younger generation. He wants students to grow the seeds into sunflowers and in turn pass on seeds from those plants to other students, turning them on to the joys of gardening as well.

“Gardening creates a peace of mind,” he explains. “It creates conscientiousness about life – a wisdom and ability to see things grow, live and die. Nowadays a lot of people are on a treadmill because things are going too quickly. Gardening is a tool for slowing things down. It creates patience, a sense of endurance and a wonder at seeing what you have helped nurture.”

Students at Winchester Public School are not the only ones interested in the project. Peers in Las Vegas, Nevada and New York City are also participating in the project after hearing about it on the Web. A special portion of the seeds will be sent to sick kids at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario to get them in on the fun and give them a diversion as they battle their illnesses.



Currently, the climbing team is delayed at a base camp near the bottom of the mountain after the Chinese government closed the north face of Everest until May 10 when the Olympic torch will pass through the area. Due to recent public demonstrations over Tibet, which have disrupted the torch run, the Chinese government is restricting movement of climbers until after the flame is through the area. The mountaineers will start climbing again on May 11 and the journey should be finished by May 31.

Arsenault is working on one other way to make the project fun for students. He has contacted Guinness World Records and will submit the project for world record consideration for the most seeds to the top of Everest.

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