The Lion's Roar

Insider’s Info on North’s New Greenhouse Project

Benjamin Tooker, Staff Writer

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Chances are, if you’ve walked down the hallway between the two courtyards this year, you’ve probably found yourself glancing upon it. It sits empty in the small courtyard, idly waiting as students and staff pass by it daily.   By now, it’s no secret that the administration of North had a surprise up their sleeve for returning students. They were greeted back to school with the sight of a greenhouse occupying the small courtyard. However, most that walk past the greenhouse are confused as to what purpose it will serve; it is incomplete as of yet, leaving students to speculate behind the glass as to what this new structure has in store for them.

Curious about the greenhouse, The Lion’s Roar staff decided to do some research. As it turns out, this elusive greenhouse did not appear out of the blue; in the opening letter to parents of the 2017-18 school year, Dr. Cartier stated that, “Our goal [last] year [was] to raise funding to purchase a greenhouse for our small courtyard.” Fast forward to January 2018, when a Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant of $10,000 was awarded to North in order to do just that. With funding for the greenhouse secured, work started on the installation of the greenhouse in the small courtyard.

In order to gather more information, The Lion’s Roar decided it was time to speak with the person that knew the most about the project, Dr. Patricia Vari-Cartier.  Dr. Cartier shared some exciting behind the scenes information about her plans for the greenhouse, or as she calls it, the Horticultural Laboratory. It was surprising to hear about the wide array of services the lab will provide for North students.  Not only will it allow environmental science classes to experiment with soil composition, plant nutrition, and hybrid planting, it will also provide culinary arts classes with herbs like parsley and basil for their dishes, and fashion design classes with flowers to experiment with in their designs.

To accompany the introduction of the laboratory, expert gardeners from Rutgers will visit North to instruct environmental science classes. Dr. Cartier hopes to make the small courtyard accessible to students at lunch by setting up tables adjacent to the greenhouse. As an added bonus, plants intended for the outdoor garden can be planted earlier within the greenhouse, since the durable plastic exterior traps sunlight and keeps plants warmer for a longer portion of the year.   However, the lab is far from finished. Many strides need to be taken before it can be officially opened to North students. A steel-tube frame shelter and a steel storage shed need to be installed before the exterior can be considered complete. As for the interior, tables, pots, soil, seeds, and plants are yet to be acquired.

In order to raise money to buy the necessary materials, a flea market / craft fair is scheduled in the front parking lot on October 20. In the spirit of unifying the community, students, staff, and local businesses will be reached for additional donations. Landscaping will occur around the greenhouse as the interior is arranged. After work on the greenhouse and surrounding area is complete, it will be formally opened during a ribbon-cutting ceremony that will occur alongside the Middletown High School North Garden Fair in the spring of 2019. 

 Dr. Cartier is excited about to the prospect of a greenhouse/laboratory. “I look forward to having a garden fair in the spring and a ribbon cutting ceremony for the greenhouse. The facility will be used by many classrooms, and the knowledge that the students will acquire from working in the greenhouse and horticultural lab will help them in future areas of study and careers.”   She is not alone for enthusiasm for the project; Many teachers at North have mutual excitement for the greenhouse as well. “The lessons on ecology are endless as we could analyze various conditions including temperature and soil precipitation for proper growing conditions,” said science teacher Randy Kalman. “By utilizing the greenhouse for experimental purposes, the students could grow their own plants that they could dissect and analyze.”

MHSN is trying to create a Farm-to-Table experience with items grown from the Greenhouse Project

Michele Sandone, the culinary arts teacher, recognizes that “students would be able to understand the benefits of utilizing fresh produce grown from our very own campus greenhouse focusing specifically on flavor and nutrition. This would help create a true Farm-to-Table experience. With culinary trends moving in this direction, a greenhouse on campus would help to demonstrate the origins of food by offering opportunities for students to learn about sustainability and responsibility. The greenhouse would also help to support our food budget with the ever rising cost of quality.”

Fashion and home decor instructor Meghan Hanson observes that “a campus greenhouse would allow Fashion and Home decor students to incorporate floral selections and interior gardens into their design plans to enhance color palettes and reflect trends within the space. Utilizing the flowers found in our campus greenhouse will provide students with the ability to present their clients with an array of florals. Aligning those arrangements with the appropriate setting demonstrates the basic elements and principles of design of home decor as outlined within our curriculum.”  A sense of shared anticipation for the completion of the greenhouse lingers in the air at North. Students should be equally as excited for this new development. The installation of the greenhouse marks the beginning of a green and sustainable future for North.

 

If you want to help support the greenhouse project, come to the flea market/craft fair on October 20 hosted in the front parking lot from 8:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.

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Insider’s Info on North’s New Greenhouse Project