TRENTON, Maine— Pupils at the Trenton Elementary School soon will be experiencing the greenhouse effect — from a real greenhouse.
A group of volunteers spent Saturday erecting the framework for a 15-foot-by-30-foot greenhouse that will become a focus for the school’s curriculum and a link to the wider Trenton community.
The greenhouse has been a long time coming. It was the gift of a local resident four years ago and has been in storage since then while teachers, staff and parents wrote grants and held fundraisers for the money needed to put it up, according to Cynthia Lambert, the middle school science teacher at the school.
“We finally got enough money to put [in] the foundation,” Lambert said during a lunch break.
The foundation — along with the necessary groundwork and electrical work — was completed last summer, and Lambert said they hope to have the greenhouse up and running this spring.
“It will probably take another day or two to finish putting in the panels,” she said.
Some of the funds were raised to replace the original glass panels with polycarbonate panels for safety reasons.
The greenhouse will become a centerpiece for the science curriculum at the school and also will be used with other subjects.
“It will be great for kids to have a hands-on experience,” Lambert said.
One of the first projects for pupils at the greenhouse will be raising salad greens for the school lunch program. Lambert said the school cook has applied for a grant to purchase a salad bar for the cafeteria. The school has started a 4-H group, Lambert said, and they will do some of the initial test growing this spring.
“We’ll find out what grows well and do some taste testing, see what kids like and then move into different types of things,” she said. “If we grow it, they might eat it.”
Lambert said they also would encourage pupils to become junior master gardeners, a program offered through 4-H.
The greenhouse will provide pupils with a living laboratory at the school, said principal Gary Bosk, who was a part of the construction crew Saturday.
The science curriculum based around the greenhouse, “Growing Up Growing,” will touch all subjects taught in the school and will provide pupils with a real-life experience, he said.
“It’s hard to duplicate that in the classroom,” he said. “Having kids growing things they can actually eat is important. It will reconnect them with where their food comes from. That’s something every child ought to know.”
Both Bosk and Lambert said that an important part of the program would include involving the community. They hope to make the greenhouse available to parents and community members during the summer to help keep the plants the pupils start this spring growing throughout the summer months.
Next year, Lambert said, they hope to involve community members in the greenhouse program, bringing gardeners in to work with the pupils.