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Greenhouse makeover

posted: Wed, Apr 11th, 2018

Jacob McCreery works in the middle school greenhouse

Big changes are coming to the Mount Olive Middle School greenhouse.

In the coming months, a hydroponic system will be installed that grows plants in nutrient-enriched water instead of soil and also provides the PVC piping and pump that will irrigate the plants automatically. This means a longer growing season since the system can function continuously over the summer with little maintenance. The change will allow fruits and vegetables to be cultivated. Currently, decorative plants are being grown, provided and maintained by teacher Gerald D’Albis who has decades of experience in the floral business.

The greenhouse initiative stems from the school’s science club. Led by seventh-grader Jacob McCreery, a team of students with an interest in horticulture researched various greenhouse improvements and developed a proposal. The students presented their plan and funding request to the board of education at a meeting in December. 

In addition to providing students with a hands-on growing experience, the greenhouse will also benefit the community. The science club intends to donate the harvested produce to a local food pantry. 

“I am so proud of the hard work and detail that the students put into their proposal,” said science teacher Rachel Eby, the club’s adviser. “They are so dedicated and determined to convert the greenhouse to hydroponics and give back to the community.” 

Cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce are slated to be grown first.

Besides the extension of the growing season and reduced need for human supervision, the hydroponic system has other benefits over traditional growing. It reduces crop failure, eliminates pest and weed problems, yields much more produce in the same space as growing in soil, and uses 90-95% less water through recycling and reuse.

Mount Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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Phone: 973.691.4006 Fax: 973.691.4029

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