Poland High School gets new greenhouse

POLAND — Poland Seminary High School students now have the opportunity to learn about the long-term commitment of growing plants.

Members of the science department and Poland Schools Foundation recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new Sungrow 20 greenhouse that will enhance science courses at the high school. The greenhouse’s initial setup is 10-by-20 feet, and includes automatic roof vents, two stainless steel tables and four planter boxes.

The greenhouse started as a mini-grant application from science teacher Debbie Smith. She wanted a $5,000 to $7,000 greenhouse project and had requested $2,000 to help start it.

“When the foundation saw the application, they felt it was a good idea and decided to fund the entire project,” Poland Superintendent Craig Hockenberry said. “This is a good example to the rest of our staff who can apply for projects and items to enhance education.”

Smith was able to speak on her project and what it will mean to Poland High School science students. She said there are 5,000 documented school greenhouses in the United States.

Smith said the outdoor greenhouse will bring a new level of learning and will benefit students in more ways than one.

“In the school greenhouse, students will work on botanical projects that may require weeks or months to complete, thereby teaching commitment, responsibility and patience for a living organism,” Smith said.

She said the students will be able to use smell, touch and even taste, which is something they can’t apply in the science labs.

“It is great for the botany class and will really help with hands-on learning,” Poland senior Nadia Zarbaugh, who serves as student ambassador on the Poland Schools Foundation board, said.

Short-term goals for the greenhouse include planting cold-tolerant plants. The classes also will be visiting a farmers market and a working plant farm.

Long-term goals include landscaping and planting beneficial native perennials around the greenhouse, collaborating with other high schools such as Boardman, which has a greenhouse and similar programming. Poland also wants to develop a farm-to-table program at the school. Smith said the cafeteria staff could someday be receiving fresh vegetables from the greenhouse.

“Most importantly, the greenhouse will foster the emotional well-being of our students while surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature,” Smith said.


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