HARRISVILLE — Harrisville Central School’s Wellness Committee planted a seed that will begin to grow this summer with the district’s first garden and hydroponic system.
“It’s a pretty good idea. We’re saving money,” said Ashley VanWeort, a senior assisting with the project. “We do BLTs every once in a while (in the cafeteria). Obviously we don’t have the bacon, but you get the lettuce, tomatoes and onions.”
The group, comprised of faculty members and students, planted four 4-by-8-foot raised garden beds and built a standing hydroponic system June 4. The Wellness Committee hopes to grow produce this summer to be used in the school cafeteria. Or, in the case of the pumpkins, for decoration at Halloween. Plants will include peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, onions, pumpkins and possibly gourds.
The $1,227 project was funded through the Health Initiative, Potsdam. Sarah Bentley-Garfinkel is the school programs director with the nonprofit.
“We’ve been working with Harrisville Central School on the Healthy Schools New York project since fall of 2010,” she said. “Healthy Schools New York is a statewide initiative working with schools to develop, implement and evaluate school wellness policies focusing on nutrition and physical activity.”
The project was spearheaded by physical education instructor Robin Smith, Wellness Committee president. Ms. Smith said participants already have begun planning care for the garden over summer break.
“We want to get the old folks home in town ... let them have a week in August where they can take some produce with them,” added Ms. Smith.
The project had been in the planning stages for some time, but was implemented June 4.
“We’d like for the cafeteria to use it as much as they can, but we’d also like the community to come down and see it and know they can use,” said Ms. Smith.
“We’re starting small scale, but we’re a small-scale school,” said instructor Robert Blank, who will take over as group president next year. “We hope to have a greenhouse. We’re going to put in a temporary fence ... (to keep out) deer, groundhogs and rabbits, all standard pest type animals.”
The fence is provided through the school and will be 8-feet tall and consist of two layers of snow fence.
Another concern the school has faced in putting the project together is the sand-like soil.
“It’s almost pure sand. It’s hard to even grow grass. We have bare patches,” Mr. Blank said.
The raised garden beds were developed to counteract the issue. Fresh manure and soil were blended to promote growth.
“We want to take this inside in the winter and see if they’ll grow all year-round. Especially the lettuce, tomatoes and peppers because the cafeteria uses them all the time,” said Ms. Smith.
The seedlings were donated by instructor Troy Hebert. Contributing students include Miss VanWeort, Lenora Mansil, Brendon Smith, Austin Spencer, Dylan Spencer and Courtney Meek.