Middletown North Receives $10,000 Grant for Green Team’s Efforts


Lion's Roar Staff

The Middletown High School North Green Team has been very fortunate to work with Sustainable Jersey for Schools since 2015. The original funding from Sustainable Jersey for Schools and NJEA enabled them to build and install the HS North Greenhouse and Outdoor Learning Lab which opened in the spring of 2018. Since then, they have added a chicken coop, which houses multiple breeds of laying hens and provides eggs to the Culinary Arts classes, to interested staff and also to members of the High School North community upon request.

The $10,000 grant funding received from Sustainable Jersey for Schools and NJEA in 2022 will enable HS North to complete additional projects on the campus. The next phase of development is to install a heat sink within the greenhouse. This feature will allow them to regulate the temperature inside the greenhouse during the winter months to extend the growing season using natural, sustainable methods. No fossil fuels will be required to heat the greenhouse. In addition, they plan to install an aquaponics system by building a large-scale koi pond that will serve as a source of water and nutrients for the plants. The water from the koi pond will be circulated through the aquaponics system within the garden boxes.  

MHSN Chicken Coop was one of the projects that was constructed by the Middletown North Green Team.

The koi pond will serve a dual purpose. The nutrients carried by the water that are created by the fish will provide natural fertilizer to the plants growing in the existing aquaponics unit of the garden boxes. By recirculating the water, they will conserve resources and stimulate plant growth and development. With the heat sink in place, at the end of the local growing season, projects started in the fall could be transferred to the greenhouse for continuation throughout the winter. Similarly, projects intended to be completed in the outdoor garden can be started earlier inside the greenhouse and then moved outside. The heat sink will allow the students to fully use all the resources of the Outdoor Learning Lab as it relates to the study of plants, the analysis of the growing processes, and the evaluation of the impact of environmental and agricultural variables on plant development. The students are building benches adjacent to the koi pond where they can relax and enjoy the outdoor environment.

Another facet of the program includes the collection of all the wood shavings from the chicken coop, the weeds from the garden boxes and the food waste products from the lunches in the cafeteria. They are adding the materials to the three composting bins and rotating everything to create organic soil for the garden boxes. 

The Middletown High School  North Green Team members include Patricia Cartier, Tim Heaney, Eric Hoblitzell, Clare Isaksen, Randy Kalman, John Marandola, Sue Kinsella, Pete Milnes, Regina Price, Carol Reuter, Cassia Wellington, Jen Woods and David Xavier. They have been integral to the success of the sustainability programs at HS North and the completion of requirements to earn Sustainability Jersey for Schools Bronze certifications in the 2017-2020 and 2020-2023 cycles.

Middletown High School North has received $10,000 in grant funding from Sustainable Jersey for Schools and the NJEA.

Dr. Cartier, High School North Principal, noted that, “The staff and students from our special class programs, the Science National Honor Society members, and the AP Environmental Science classes have been actively involved and invested in implementing and maintaining the outdoor campus projects.  The students have been learning invaluable lessons and life skills. It is rewarding to see them exhibit a sense of pride and accomplishment for their efforts in improving our school environment through their active participation in our sustainability initiatives.”

For more information about Sustainable Jersey for Schools, visit www.sustainablejerseyschools.com