School greenhouse plans are step closer to fruition



BAR HARBOR — It’s been years in the making, but plans for a greenhouse and gardening program at Conners Emerson School are inching closer to fruition.

Most of the construction materials are on hand, the site has been prepared for construction, and organizers are looking for volunteers for a weekend to put the structure up, said sixth-grade teacher Steve Gabel-Richards, who has been the driving force behind the project.

A fundraiser scheduled for May 15 at Havana restaurant, held in conjunction with Food Revolution Day 2015, is focused on the goal of helping to complete the project. Last year, a similar fundraiser at Havana helped raise $1,300.

“We are hoping that this years Food Revolution Day will generate another surge of support to help us turn the student plans into reality,” Gabel-Richards said. “The money last year allowed us to buy most of the construction materials for the greenhouse and prepare the site for construction. Unfortunately, an early and long winter put the start of construction on hold.”

Gabel-Richards’ students have been working throughout the school year with College of the Atlantic students on a farm-to-school program. The work has included learning about local agriculture, food security and healthy foods.

“During this time, the students have developed a deeper understanding of the systems responsible for our food and the consequences of the decisions they make concerning this food. For their final projects, the students have taken on the detailed planning for the garden and greenhouse,” he said.

The projects will be displayed at a Farm to School celebration at Conners Emerson on June 3.

Remaining needs for the greenhouse project include electrical and plumbing work to get power and water to the structure, lumber to build raised beds for the greenhouse and garden, loam and compost to fill the beds and assorted hardware to finish the stage.

“This is a lot of work, but we feel we’ve laid the groundwork for a successful and sustainable program for years to come,” Gabel-Richards said.

The farm-to-school class is hoping to start building some raised beds for an outdoor garden next week. The students have designed three beds that will spell out CES and be placed in a new garden area near the entrance to the Emerson building. Students are also planning crops and starting seedlings. The group has been to the Common Ground fair and spent time at COA’s Peggy Rockefeller and Beech Hill farms.

Food Revolution Day will include hands-on activities in the school cafeteria on May 15, sponsored by Havana and Mount Desert Island Hospital. The events at Havana begin at 4 p.m., with an open house where students will present dishes created during the day. Dinner service is from 5-9 p.m., with all proceeds going toward the greenhouse project.

Gabel-Richards encourages community members interested in helping with the greenhouse project to contact him at mrgr@mdirss.org.

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