EDISON — Faculty and students at John P. Stevens High School have moved closer to their goal of building a learning greenhouse, thanks to a grant from Sustainable Jersey.
Between the $20,000 grant, funded by the PSEG Foundation, and ongoing fundraising efforts, the school is well over the halfway mark toward its $50,000 goal.
“This significant new grant from Sustainable Jersey emphasizes just how much towns and school districts can achieve when they work cooperatively,” Mayor Thomas Lankey said. “Working together, we will provide a terrific new educational benefit for students, and we will do it without tax dollars.”
A group of faculty members came up with the idea for the project in September. They sought to improve the school as a whole while providing a way to help students with disabilities develop new skills, according to Assistant Principal Meredith Quick, who was among those spearheading the efforts.
“Our goal is for all students to learn the true meaning of living green and be able to utilize these life skills learned for years to come,” Quick said.
The greenhouse will open up new avenues for teaching certain courses. Among the classes that will benefit from the greenhouse are biology, environmental science and culinary arts.
The science courses will use food waste from the cafeteria and turn it into soil through the use of wigwams, according to Quick. The culinary arts program will cook with the food grown in the greenhouse. Baked goods and soups will be sold along with produce at the JPS Farm Stand, located outside the school, Quick said.
High school students with disabilities will work in the greenhouse during the summer with students from Rutgers University and will sell produce at the farmers market, Quick said. The school will donate excess goods to the local food pantry, she added.
In September, J.P. Stevens applied for a number of grants, with the $20,000 from Sustainable Jersey being the highest amount and most competitive grant.
Randall Solomon, co-director at Sustainable Jersey, said he was impressed with Edison’s well-structured presentation and plans.
“They were having trouble getting the rest of the money together [for the project], and that counted against them,” he said. “However, the strength of their presentation and their idea outweighed any negatives.”
Before receiving the grant, the school had raised $17,000 toward its $50,000 objective. While J.P. Stevens is still $13,000 short of the goal, those involved remain optimistic.
“We continue to accept donations to see all aspects of this program come to fruition,” Quick said.
In addition, she said, school clubs will engage in fundraising efforts throughout the year.
The goal is to have the greenhouse built by fall, and have the program up and running by next year.
For more information or to donate to the project, visit the school’s GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/i5coq0.