Greenhouse ‘alive’ again at Bob Jones
MADISON – By ‘getting down and dirty,’ teachers and students have revived the greenhouse at Bob Jones High School.
Science teachers Timothy Ames, Michelle Cleveland and Ben Johnston spearheaded the work.
The greenhouse had sat idle about four years, with plans to use it for storage. Principal Sylvia Lambert suggested the greenhouse restoration as an option during Patriot Path, an hour on Wednesdays when students de-stress by pursuing a special interest.
Ames and Cleveland agreed on the idea but realized the work ahead. “Getting the place cleaned out took a few weeks. ‘Clevo’ (Michelle Cleveland) and I were surprised to find items we could use to get started,” Ames said.
Ames contacted local retailers for help with supplies. “They jumped all in,” he said. “Each time we’ve gone to them for support and supplies, their answer has been, ‘How can we help?'” Ames said.
Three Dollar General stores donated 400-plus packs of vegetable and flower seeds and potting soil. Lowe’s (especially employees Zack and Jessi) gave primary growth soil and technical instructions.
“We took students to the greenhouse to aid with the first cleanup day and pot washing, which took two weeks with 12 to 15 kids working. To clean up an approximate 30-by-70 foot greenhouse was a chore, to say the least, and still isn’t complete today,” Ames said.
Students planted seeds and, when these germinated, “became vested. We’re excited ‘to see the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors,'” Ames said. They have grown three varieties of squash, two of tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, cantaloupes, peppers and a host of flowers and ornamentals.
“Students are researching how to plant, what to plant, how and when to transplant and grafting techniques, along with working with others to reach a common goal,” Ames said.
The greenhouse crew plans to use it year-round and schedule plantings for timely harvests. “We have not quite figured out, being early in the project, how large our harvest, if any will be or what will become of it … besides just eat it,” Ames said.
In the future, the Bob Jones greenhouse’s produce may help a local food pantry, the school cafeteria or culinary department. “All are good goals as service projects,” Ames said.