Growing Gardens In and Out

Students in the after school Teen Advocacy Group developed indoor and outdoor gardens at Calais Middle/High School. This project helps promote local food use in the school food service program, and improves student awareness of nutrition.

From using recycled tires as planters to studying hydroponic growing methods to prolong the growing season, students learned and applied a broad range of skills to the project. In fact, their science teacher has utilized the project back in the classroom.

Community partners have been involved in every aspect of the project. For growing methods, students consulted Richard East, a local master gardener. Richard Mingo, a local contractor, and Tom Pottle, who owns and operates Pembroke Lumber Co., have assisted with materials. Arrangements are being made with the Beckett House (an adult day care) and the Children’s Project (a live-in school) to help tend the gardens this summer.

Students presented their work and plans at the 2011 KIDS Consortium Student Summit in March.

The project is continuing. Students will have a better idea of how well their project meets needs once harvesting begins in earnest. The first lettuce and basil was ready for the farmer’s market in May, and some strawberries ripened before the end of the school year. Produce sales will help fund future service-learning projects.

The students will be able to measure the impact in school in fall classes. They’ve already identified some improvements to make next year. The growing room needs to become more energy efficient or be utilized only for producing starts in March and April.