NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Birchwood Middle School students have already been taking agricultural classes, but a new greenhouse will only enhance their learning.
On Wednesday, a ground-breaking ceremony was held for the new greenhouse, which will expand the science and keep the growing going year-round.
“This is what it’s all about. You are our future… and hopefully, this will make each and every one of you have a greener thumb,” North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi said to students at the ground-breaking ceremony.
Katie Bowers, the Agro-STEAM teacher at the school, said that at this point, they’ve been growing things hydroponically indoors, including tomatoes and lettuce. She said they also have a traditional garden growing.
Bowers said there are 150 students enrolled in the agricultural program at Birchwood.
Birchwood Principal Brain Gilmore said that the greenhouse will be 24 by 48 feet.
The school recently received a $30,000 grant from the Champlin Foundation and Jackvony Construction has committed to building the greenhouse free of charge. Saving on the labor costs will enable the school to purchase other equipment like chrome books and cameras.
This project-based learning, as it’s known, puts the science being learned into action.
“The students will have the community connection where they are growing the plants. They have a farm stand. They’re learning about profits and budgets,” Bowers said.
Next year, the school hopes to incorporate the lettuce, tomatoes, peas and other plants into the school lunches.
“The information they are typically getting from textbooks are actually having experience in it…will hopefully have an impact on them for the rest of their lives,” Bowers said.
Construction of the greenhouse will begin right away and it should be ready for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.