School Greenhouse Project Needs a Little More Green

Sturgeon Bay High School needs just a few more dollars to get the greenlight on their new greenhouse. An effort that began more than a year ago is now coming to fruition with all aspects of building the greenhouse now finalized.

A final call for donations to close a gap in funds was sent out to the community to cover the significantly higher than expected construction costs as they look to break ground during the summer. The project is totally funded by outside sources and the Greenhouse Committee, made up of Sturgeon Bay High School teachers and students, has been successful in raising three-quarters of the $143,705 projected construction costs.

The new greenhouse will be front and center of the Sturgeon Bay High School and Middle School, measuring 30 feet by 40 feet, constructed from a kit fabricated by United Greenhouse near Janesville. The construction of the infrastructure will be overseen by Smet General Construction of Green Bay, with more than 60 percent of the subcontracted work provided by local contractors.

The Greenhouse Committee spent quite a bit of time assuring that this is the best site functionally while addressing aesthetic concerns, enlisting the help of project collaborators as well as local experts, including Ron Amos from Evergreen Nursery and Max Martin from the Peninsular Agricultural Research Station.

Natalie Townsend, family and consumer science teacher, will begin a new Sustainable Living class in the fall whose students will be primarily responsible for growing the majority of the plants. The food produced, such as cherry tomatoes, swiss chard, spinach and herbs will be used in the lunch lines at all the district’s schools.

“We want them to eat healthy and we want them to know where their food is coming from,” said Townsend.

Jenny Spude, food service director for the district, said, “When the kids can do the growing, tending and picking, they have a much better buy-in in the cafeteria and much less waste in the garbage.”   

The Greenhouse Committee team is looking forward to not only the food it will provide across the district but the teaching tools it will create for all students. Spude explains it will offer opportunities for caretaking and food education as well as a tactile environment that will enhance education in many other departments. She said, “One thing that’s really cool about this district is how multidisciplined and multifaceted it is and how many different groups will use that greenhouse. Our kids are going to have touch points all along their career at school and they will have the greenhouse be a central part of it.”  

Family and Consumer Science students will also learn how to can, ferment and dehydrate as well as ways to recycle and repurpose. Other classes will contribute to the cause; the Technology and Engineering students are set to develop and construct a compost tumbler and Life Sciences students will be able to study plant growth and photosynthesis.

Spude and Townsend are excited the other departments will also be able to take advantage of the greenhouse. Special Education students will have opportunities to experience a therapeutic and enriching environment, the Spanish classes will be able to grow specialty peppers and herbs for culinary ethnic cooking, the English class students can use it for technical and reflective writing skills, and the art department students can use it for visual topics.

The in-house purchasing of the produce is one of the ways the greenhouse will be financially supported over time. The Greenhouse team has investigated how to create value-added products for sale to the public such as a dry rubs for fish or meat.

Spude is enthusiastic that teaching kids basic life skills and exposing them to these opportunities will help them get ahead and figure out what they want to do as they go elsewhere. Townsend said, “The skill of growing your own food is going to be a life-long skill that they can use forever.”

For more information or to learn how to help this project, contact Jenny Spude (920.746.3877) or Natalie Townsend (920.746.3850).

Article Comments