Home Edison Sentinel Edison News

Greenhouse to grow opportunities for students

By Jacqueline Durett

EDISON –A new greenhouse at J.P. Stevens High School is on the cusp of opening.

And while only a portion of the students have been involved with the project to date, once the greenhouse is open, all J.P. Stevens students will have an element of their education intertwined with the onions, potatoes, squash and strawberries.

“We’re really at the point where we’re about to move forward full force,” said Meredith Quick, assistant principal, who has been leading the project along with strong support from teachers and other staff members. The project has been in progress for a couple of years.

Many of the students who will benefit from the greenhouse are the students from the multiply disabled program, who will be learning valuable life skills through a process called horticultural therapy. These students will do much of the planting and nurturing of the organic fruits and vegetables and then the selling of the produce to their peers at the greenhouse’s farm stand.

These skills, Quick said, could set these students up for the workplace down the road. “This could be a potential job placement for them in the future,” Quick said.

However, Quick said all students would see the greenhouse incorporated into their classes, including consumer science, marketing, business and architecture. She said even music students will be able to play to the plants, and arts students will be able to use the plants as inspiration for drawing and poetry. All students will be able to discard leftover lunch food to the greenhouse’s composting process.

The school is also partnering with experts from Kean University. The college in Union has donated soil and provided the Edison high school with access to staff members who have expertise on growing organic plants. “They have been nothing but supportive,” Quick said of the Kean staff.

Quick said if the school is able to realize its full dream of the greenhouse, the cost is somewhere near $100,000. To date, the school has received financial support from the Board of Education, and secured an additional $55,000 in grants and donations. Quick said the school applied for more than 40 grants and continues to do so. The board, Quick said, is covering many of the utility-related costs of the project.

Quick said there will be an open house once the greenhouse has a little time under its belt so visitors can see what the students have started growing.

“We’re very excited about it,” she said.

Quick pointed out that the greenhouse would also benefit the larger community. Local residents will be able to purchase the produce from the Edison farmer’s market. A portion will also be provided to local food pantries.

“We’re big thinkers around here,” Quick said, adding that when it came to this project, “We decided we were going to have the ‘Go big or go home’ philosophy.”

Donations to the greenhouse may be made at http://jpsgreenhouse.weebly.com, where those interested may either make a general donation or support the purchase of specific items such as watering wands for $30 and gardening gloves for $10.

Down the road, Quick said, the school officials will also look at incorporating alternative energy sources into the greenhouse, such as solar panels or a windmill.

Exit mobile version