John P. Stevens High School, a registered Eco School with over 2,300 students, is continuing to find new ways to teach living-green practices. We seek to expand the understanding of “how children can make greener choices” by building a greenhouse where our students will learn the value of gardening for their own nourishment.
Educating children about the importance of creating an environmentally clean and safe ecosystem is essential in today’s world. It is not just about telling students what can be done to make greener choices; it is about designing experiences to allow the students to actually make them. A greenhouse will provide a cross curricular opportunity to grow food that students will utilize in cooking classes, investigate in scientific studies, and proudly share with the community.
Biology and Environmental Science classes will utilize the greenhouse in a variety of ways. Students in Environmental Science classes will: study the process of photosynthesis in action, collect water from rain barrels to water the plants, and facilitate and implement the use of worm wigwams in the cafeteria for students and staff to reduce waste. The use of worm wigwams will turn garbage into fertile soil that will be used in the greenhouse. The students will be able to reduce waste and witness the impact of their conservation efforts on our local environment while applying their understanding of key scientific concepts in “action”. Biology students will analyze various aspects of genetics, photosynthesis, and biodiversity. Students will investigate inheritance trends by planting “Wisconsin Fast Plants” for a hands-on approach to genetics, conduct experiments to further understand the process of photosynthesis, and actually be able to cross pollinate plants in order to explore how traits are passed through generations.
Culinary Arts classes will truly experience the farm to table concept by growing the produce and spices they will use in their own cooking. Students will see how growing their own produce provides a product they can be proud of and share with the community. We plan to invite local farmers to teach students a variety of farming techniques, such as placing techniques, which will encourage a more plentiful yield of fruits and vegetables. In order to maintain and help support the greenhouse, students will cook with the produce, creating breads, pies, salads and other delicious creations to sell to the community.
Students in our Multiply Disabled (MD) program will assist with maintaining the greenhouse as well as operating a farm stand that will feature produce and products directly from the greenhouse. Students will learn all aspects of gardening and aid in maintaining the greenhouse while learning how to plant, prune, water, fertilize naturally, and maintain a healthy atmosphere in a greenhouse. The students with multiple disabilities will collaborate with our Marketing and Advertising classes to advertise the sale of the grown produce at local farmers markets and our own, JPS Farm Stand, and to help maintain budgets and finances associated with the greenhouse. In addition, we plan to sell our produce to the ShopRite Supermarket Careers program at Edison High School, a self-sustaining supermarket run by students with disabilities.
The JPS Farm Stand will be located outside of the building, and will be organized and run by students in the Multiply Disabled Program. Working closely with the community and their peers, counting money and advertising, as well as keeping inventory of products will provide those students with the opportunity to practice life skills in real-life community and settings. The JPS Farm Stand will sell produce grown in the greenhouse and food created with the yield from the greenhouse made by students in the Culinary Arts classes.
The Art department will aid in this cross curricular project by designing a logo for the JPS Farm Stand. Our multiply-disabled program will take those designs, and create apparel and accessories that can be worn by the JPS Farm Stand Employees and marketed to community members. In addition, we plan to make reusable shopping bags, printed with tips for living green, that can further living green practices to our community.
John P. Stevens High School has received grant funding and donations to build the greenhouse and begin growing a variety of vegetables. We plan to expand the program to support a year-round farm stand, CSA for families receiving SNAP funding, dinners for senior citizens in financial distress and a florist program run by the students in our multiply disabled classes. Please help us create a greener future!