Sunday, June 23, 2024

Sprucing up downtown

Staff Writer | May 16, 2024 3:05 AM

MOSES LAKE — Samatha Underwood said one lesson she’s learned in three years of planting the flower boxes in downtown Moses Lake is that people really are paying attention.

“People actually do appreciate this,” she said. “We actually had somebody in a truck roll down the window and yell, ‘Thank you.’” 

Underwood was part of the crew of Moses Lake High School Future Farmers of America members and horticulture students hauling flower-filled trays and buckets of water around downtown Moses Lake on Wednesday morning. They dug out the leftover roots from last fall, added some fertilizer and replanted all the flower pots lining Third Street, the side streets throughout downtown and the big planter box in the intersection at Sinkiuse Square. 

The Downtown Moses Lake Association orders the flowers; the students grow them in the high school’s two greenhouses and plant them downtown. 

Abby Stowers said the project always gives her a chance to reflect on continuity - somebody planted the trees that are now growing downtown, somebody else planted the flower boxes, and future groups of MLHS students will be planting them after she graduates. 

Jenna Zemke and Issabelle Parrish both said it’s a good community service project, a way to express appreciation to the community for its support.

“It’s just giving back,” Zemke said, “and it’s a nice way to know how to give back.”
It was also a good opportunity to spend a few hours outside on a sunny spring day, with pizza as an added benefit. One of the crew asked FFA co-advisor and ag teacher Tony Kern when the pizza was arriving. 

“Pizza? It’s only 9:52,” Kern said. 

Originally it was a DMLA project, but the association contracted it out to the MLHS students. Kern said part of the learning process has been experimenting with different plants and determining what works best on downtown streets. 

“The quality of the project has grown. We’ve kind of fine-tuned it a little bit,” Kern said.

Each flowerpot gets petunias, sweet potato vines and ornamental grass. Carlos Orozco explained that the vines and flowers are planted in each corner with the ornamental grass in the center. 

Downtown is filled with flowerpots, so many that some usually get missed at first, Kern said. After the students had been working for about 90 minutes they were pretty sure they’d planted everything, but Kern assessed the flowers waiting on the sidewalk and told them to keep looking.

“I guarantee we’ve got a lot that aren’t done,” he said.

Anjelica Cochrun said the short class, and the project, taught her about what’s involved in agriculture, and Nia Whitfield said her experience growing plants has given her a whole new interest.

“Now I want my own garden someday,” she said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at

    Nia Whitfield fills a wagon with flowers to be planted downtown. Students from Moses Lake High School’s horticulture class and the MLHS FFA chapter planted the flower pots along Third Street and side streets Wednesday.
    From left, Samantha Underwood, Anjelica Cochrun and Abby Stowers clean out a planter.

    Carlos Orozco adds flowers to a downtown planter. He and several classmates participated in the annual downtown beautification project.