Lee Middle and High School students celebrated their new greenhouse recently by simultaneously taking huge bites of apples, symbolizing the produce the greenhouse will soon yield.
The 12-foot by 26-foot western red cedar structure, located outside the school building, smells of fresh wood.It stands ready for use for growing seedlings, gardening projects, science class and all types of outdoor education.
Holding tasty honey crisp and red delicious apples, students and staff members inaugurated the facility, tying it in with “The Big Crunch,” an event for national Food Day, which aimed to get as many Michigan students as possible biting apples at the same time.
Now, with the greenhouse, students can grow food to bite into all by themselves. “We want to grow stuff we can eat,” said eighth grader Miguel Luna.
Rumor has it that not all children love their fruits and vegetables, but Leonardo at least enjoyed some that day: “I just ate two apples,” he said.
The greenhouse was funded through a grant from State Farm Insurance Company. Last year the insurance company donated a $100,000 service-learning grant to Kent ISD for sustainable urban agriculture projects in Godfrey-Lee and Kelloggsville Public Schools.
“We can learn how plants reproduce and see how they grow,” said eighth-grader Leonardo Ampuero.
Eighth-grade science teacher Vlad Borzo said the greenhouse will be equipped with electricity, irrigation and movable shelves where potted seedlings will sprout. Students will donate herb and tomato seedlings to United Church Outreach Ministry, which operates a neighborhood food pantry. Parents will be able to come in and grow their own plants to bring home.
Possible projects can span all subject areas, and emphasize healthy eating and the importance of local food.
Food Service Director Daniela McClure organized “The Big Crunch,” which students across the district participated in. She said tying it to the greenhouse’s opening was a way of saying, “fresh fruit and vegetables are grown here.”