First Graders Learn Stewardship Lessons in the Greenhouse and Beyond


In social studies, lower school students learn about Morningside Heights and the geography and history of Manhattan. Meanwhile, their science and greenhouse studies build upon these lessons, teaching about stewardship, sustainability, and the many ways to be a good neighbor.

“This year, lower school greenhouse students will experiment with the decomposition of inorganic and organic waste, in an effort to better understand what happens to our waste when it goes away,” explained Greenhouse Teacher Lauren Paull.

During a tour of the Columbia Farmers Market in September, first graders learned about the wide variety of produce available there, where it comes from, and how they can compost their very own leftovers at school. Before their visit, first graders had diligently saved leftover food for the market’s compost collection and at the end of the tour, they took turns adding their scraps to the bin. A portion of the resulting compost is donated to school and community gardens in Morningside Heights.

September also marked the arrival of some greenhouse guests—the school’s very own worms, which will allow students to experiment with vermicomposting (the conversion of organic waste into fertilizer using worms). Students will set up and tend worm composting bins, checking in with the kitchen staff to collect any leftover scraps that might have otherwise gone to waste. Greenhouse students will take turns feeding the worms which, over the course of three to five months, will have changed this food waste into nutrient-rich soil. Lower school students will have the opportunity to “feed” this soil to local trees in Morningside Heights in the spring.