Photo credit: Josh Nichols
There are greenhouses, and then there are Greenhouses. The new 25-by-40 foot, year-round Stockbridge Community Greenhouse—complete with a furnace and ventilation sensors that control temperature and airflow—warrants a capital G, and it is up and running at Heritage School.
“I started growing plants with my students in my classroom years ago,” fourth grade teacher Josh Nichols said. “That’s when I realized how engaging this was for them.” Nichols invited area gardeners to come in and discuss their knowledge with his class. “The students would go apply what they had learned,” he said.
“We couldn’t have done it without the generous support from the community,” the recently retired Mayer demurred. She cited the Stockbridge Parent Teachers Organization (PTO), 5 Healthy Towns Foundation, Stockbridge Area Educational Foundation, Lowe’s, and the “awesome construction skills” of Dalton & Zick Builders. “There’s a ripple effect,” she added. “The greenhouse gives students from Stockbridge an opportunity to learn about plants, healthy eating, science experiments and life cycles.”
“I strongly believe that students learn by doing,” Nichols added, “and the greenhouse space offers students an opportunity to do exactly that.” He stressed the importance of young people developing the practice of looking at connections between their experiences and planting a garden. “The process gives students an experience that every human should have. Students need to know that they have choices to purchase food or to grow their own. Studies show that when students have the experience of growing their own food, they typically lead healthier lives.”
Nichols is seeking community members to come in during the school day and share their gardening experiences with small groups of students. “The Stockbridge community is full of avid and amateur gardeners, and the students here would love to hear about their successes and failures. We also would love to learn from specialty gardeners who have fallen in love with growing certain plants.” At the moment, Heritage teachers are also seeking gardeners to teach canning classes. Those interested should contact Nichols at 517-851-8600 ext. 4424.
Nichols has a vision. “Our near-future goal is to have a sculpture garden and a butterfly garden.” He added that the school is accepting donations.
Given Nichols’s success so far, it’s a good bet that sculpture and butterfly gardens will soon blossom on Heritage’s grounds.