Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Greenhouse Coming to Hommocks Middle School in Larchmont

Spreading out the peas across your dinner plate is an old trick for picky eaters! Calling your children out on it is certainly one way to go, but Betty Comerford of Hommocks Middle School is looking at a more effective long term solution. One, which may still leave them thinking they are smart enough to fool you, but could actually get them to eat their veggies!

By next fall, she hopes the school will have a greenhouse in place, adjoined to her Home and Careers classroom. In following, as kids attend to their crops at school, there’s good reason to believe that there won’t be such a big problem at home when it comes to eating their vegetables. “Research has shown that kids that are involved in hands on work like this – not only do they eat better but are more engaged in the healthy benefits of food,” she says.

As learned as this sounds, she actually planted herself in this project in order to figure out a way to stretch her classroom food budget. After getting enthusiastic support from the principal on the idea, there was a lot of work to be done in regards to getting estimates, selecting a contractor and laying out the proper specs.

A large green hand to help her through all these technical aspects came from Joanne Grossman of Larchmont Nurseries. “I went to her without even knowing her and she has been amazing through this whole process,” says Ms. Comerford.

At this point, even though it’s still going to take $50,000 more dollars to finish the project, she seems confident that the money will come in from the community by next summer. Once that happens, the greenhouse can get everyone thinking beyond themselves. “It’s the whole sustainability movement,” she says, “and nothing says that better than a head of lettuce that doesn’t require a 3,000 mile tank of gas to get it to your table.”

“In turn, as students go through the real motions of preparing the soil, growing their garden and harvesting the crops, a connection to the challenges we face in our surroundings can’t help but come up. I’d like to get into things like raindrop irrigation, composting and all natural pest control – all of which should give rise to a whole host of important environmental questions” she says.

Additionally, the greenhouse will also have the capability to serve as a curriculum crossover for the district and its schools.  “Our hope is that science classes will feel free to come use the greenhouse to study the likes of plant life cycles and photosynthesis.”
All the educational and environmental aesthetics aside, Ms. Comerford doesn’t want to dismiss another important aspect of her rooftop.  “Things that you grow taste better,” she says, and at the same time, getting started on their own, comes in well under $50,000.

I hope they walk away from this realizing that they can take a simple flower pot at home and grow some vegetables,” she says.  Oops, now they are smarter than you too!

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