Strathmore High School was hard at work building a greenhouse last school year, and it will soon be ready for use. While there is a lot more to do in the long run, the greenhouse should see some plants growing in it once the school year starts.
Science teacher Cole Hintz explained the work that went into the greenhouse over the summer to make it suitable for plants.
"At the start of the summer we just had a basic shell, but in order to actually have a place where we could use it, we had to do a lot of stuff on the inside and the outside too. On the outside, we had to do a lot of weather proofing and on the inside we had to actually build out the space so we had some functional spaces to grow."
Some of the work included building grow beds, building a pond that's also a climate regulator, and installing solar panels on the roof. The work was done by the school, community members, and volunteer groups.
Hintz is excited to see how much more they can grow the space. They have more plans for the greenhouse itself, but also have plans for the surrounding area.
"Now that we have that space I don't think we'll ever stop. We have secured funding to finish the interior, so we have it at a point where we have 9 growing spaces already set up, and it's really easy to add 3 more right off the bat. We also have a budget set aside for our off-grid solar system."
The best part about the greenhouse is that it's not just for the high school. Hintz explained it's open to the community and is meant to bring people together.
"That's the whole reason why we built this space. Building a greenhouse is one thing, but our thought was we were intentionally putting that space there to build those community connections and in order to build those relationships with the community. We wanted to involve the community more in what we were doing. and we felt like that space, having something outside of the school as a bit of a bridge was a good first step for that."
Hintz said they already have interest from groups of home-schooled students, elementary and junior high classes, different community groups, and more! The space can be used in many ways, opening up a ton of opportunities for all sorts of people.
"They can use that space for whatever they want. Maybe they want to start a micro business growing tea or something. Or maybe they want to grow flowers for another community group, or grow food for the overnight shelter. It's really flexible where it's just going to be this space where different groups are doing different things at different times but are able to learn from each other."
As the space evolves and grows, Hintz hopes to turn it into a hub for the community to gather and learn together. A big part of this will be the students themselves, who will be able to share what they learned with everyone else.
"Four students from SHS will go to an agricultural conference in Olds for 3-4 days to learn from industry pros about different sustainable farming practices and what's new and relevant. And then they'll come back to Strathmore and offer free courses to community members to pass on what they've learned as a free course for different members of the community."
For Hintz and the high school, the sky is the limit as to what they can achieve with this. With all the possibilities and connections already being made, this greenhouse could become a staple of our community.
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