What’s Growing in the Greenhouse?
With summer programs at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s complete, the school building is relatively quiet, with just a few teachers, administrators, and facilities staff members preparing for the upcoming school year. But our greenhouse and playdeck are showing signs of life, with fruit and vegetable growing, ripening, and ready to pick.
While students took home most of our plantings, to tend to them over the summer, a few plants remain and are bearing fruit! Our junior kindergartners' peppers and tomatoes are ready to harvest, while eggplant blossoms are currently in flower. We also have some luscious limes.
The greenhouse has been an important part of the curriculum since it was built in 2007, thanks to a successful auction spearheaded by the Parents’ Association. While the greenhouse serves as the school’s fourth science lab, it’s also an adjunct classroom for students in every grade, touching on every aspect of the curriculum. When our nursery students read The Three Billy Goats Gruff, they also plant and tend grass in the greenhouse. Our beginners might practice counting with tomatoes. Fourth graders last year had a contest to see who could grow the tallest plant, which allowed them not only to tend the plants but to practice measuring. In fifth, sixth, and seventh grades, students conduct experiments in botany, genetics, and other sciences for their science exhibitions.
Greenhouse keeper James Oehler, who has master of science degree from Lehman College as well as a certificate in horticultural therapy from the New York Botanical Gardens, is inspired by the students’ enthusiasm for greenhouse activities. “It’s important that students learn where their food comes from, and how to make it better,” he said, “especially In New York City, where most children don’t have access to a garden.
“I’ve even found that students are a little more curious about trying new vegetables now,” he added with a smile.
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