A Greenhouse at School?
What benefit or impact could happen if a greenhouse is established at your local school or university? Many good things, actually!
A classroom can come alive with learning and enjoyment as the kids learn how to grow and care for plants that look beautiful or taste great when consumed.
Students of all ages can learn how weather plays a role in how things grow. They learn the joy of hard work as they watch their plants grow a little every day.
They also learn about what it means to care for another living thing. Moreover, they will have a great time doing it.
Benefits of Having a Greenhouse Garden at School
Firstly, students will learn gardening basics.
You can show students how commonly consumed vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and even eggplant or carrots successfully grow when cared for.
Students can graduate from learning the basics of gardening and growing as to performing and documenting their own experiments in relation to temperature control, what environments plants thrive best in, or what fertilizers work better than others.
Students in high school could work with other teachers to promote cross-learning in varying subjects. For instance, students could learn economics and marketing skills by selling the veggies they grow in the greenhouse.
Not only are horticultural skills being learned, but also ones that could benefit them as they take their first jobs as young adults.
Students can also learn about greenhouse use around the world, and understand that these structures defy culture, language, or borders.
For instance, students can learn about the Almeria, Spain greenhouse, which is one of our planet’s largest. It is spread over a total of 50,000 acres.
Other hands-on skills, such as lawn care, landscaping, and fruit and vegetable production, are practiced here and may lead to students pursuing careers in these fields or even starting their own business in these sectors.
It is commonly known that some students, such as those in an inner-city setting, reside in what we know to be “food deserts” where fresh fruit and veggies are few and far between. Having a garden will give these students access to much-needed nutrients.
Perhaps most important of all, students gain a better appreciation for the food and vegetation that grows all around us.
What is Involved in Building a Greenhouse?
With a little hard work, it is not difficult at all to build your own greenhouse. In some cases, you can buy kits online that you and your students can put together.
In other cases, you can print plans to build a greenhouse using your own materials. Greenhouses can be purchased or built-in varying sizes that will suit whatever plot of land you have available.
Contractors may also be hired to build your greenhouse. However, the act of making it with the students furthers their learning by focusing on skills related to mathematics, teamwork, and even how to use various tools involved in the assembling of the greenhouse. It is just a sample of what young people can learn.
If money is an issue with your school, check around to see if you can find a grant designed to defray the costs of building a greenhouse.
Some greenhouse companies offer them, and there is also the USDA’s National Agriculture in the Classroom program.
Aside from the fun of building the greenhouse, students will learn and understand its purpose. They will understand how we are able to have food supplies year-round and how these magnificent structures help shield crops from pests.
How to Build A Greenhouse Garden?
These are very rudimentary steps, and the process will be much more involved. It will give you a basic idea of what goes into planning your greenhouse garden.
- Determine what land space you have.
- Create a floor plan making sure to account for special need students (wheelchair users, etc.)
- Make a list of what must be done for site prep: Excavation, the addition of gas/water lines, if the building will be connected to the school.
- Determine what must be done to secure funding for the greenhouse.
- Decide whether you want to go for a pre-made greenhouse or enroll the services of a contractor for making the greenhouse
Schools and Colleges with Greenhouse Gardens
In this section, we will look at three schools that have incorporated a greenhouse garden into their curriculum.
On the elementary level, students at Vail Mountain School in Vail, Colorado, learned much about plants as they set up and worked inside their greenhouse. Attached right to their school building, the kids worked inside the warm greenhouse despite the cold November temps outdoors.
They worked to gently loosen up the roots of the sweet pea, with the end goal of taking the plants to their school garden-they were transplanting it!
The students not only learned about how plants grow-they learned about how a greenhouse is heated and uses the power of the sun plus a climate battery to keep the place thriving all year long.
When it comes to middle school, New Orleans students got the lesson of a lifetime. The students of Carter G. Woodson school learned what it meant to work hard and care for their plants.
The students are involved in the gardening club, and there they experience the joys of planting, watering, and weeding out the tomato plants and providing care for their school’s greenhouse.
The garden provides life lessons such as learning from one’s mistakes and learning to celebrate the little victories. One child and his mother became so inspired by the garden that they ended up starting one of their own right at home.
Now for a college example. The beautiful greenhouses of Castleton University in Vermont provide a place to enjoy and learn from all nature has to offer. The greenhouse of Castleton University is an excellent example of a professional endeavor.
The permanent plant collection lives in the southern half of the greenhouse. Meanwhile, the northern side of the place is used to grow new class projects.
No matter the age or education level of the students, and regardless of the school they attend, a greenhouse can be an excellent addition to the curriculum. Students will learn skills that they will carry with them forever.