Share this article

print logo

SCHOOL'S GREENHOUSE PROVIDES EXPERIENCE TO BUDDING GARDENERS

If the moms of students at Charter School for Applied Technologies get flowering plants today, the odds are they came from a greenhouse.

The school's greenhouse.

A Mother's Day plant fundraiser is among projects undertaken in the fledgling greenhouse on the Town of Tonawanda campus. Operational since February, a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility was held Friday amid long tables brimming with colorful plants.

The 1,350-square-foot structure was built with a $100,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation, as well as a $5,000 grant from Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation.

Its purpose is to provide students with real-life, hands-on experience in ecology, scientific inquiry, geology and weather/climate, according to Justina Fetterly, director of public relations at the school.

"This has been a dream for five years," said Robert Sciandra, a science teacher at the school and lifelong gardener.

He spearheaded the plant fundraiser, which introduced seventh- and eighth-graders to botany -- as well as to job performance.

"This is all them -- it's not me," Sciandra said. "The only thing I did was facilitate."

"Every day they come down. They fertilize, they cut the plants, they dead-head," Sciandra said. "They know when they come in here, they can take charge."

Sciandra said he's been taking classes at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens and is happy to pass along his newfound knowledge to students.

"I want to share the greenhouse -- as many grade levels as possible," he said.

First-graders also have logged time in the building, planting vegetable seeds in plastic cups as part of a science lesson on life cycles.

Students of technology teacher Roger Broeker recently created a "green" roof, using layers of natural materials to grow vegetation on roof panels.

A grant through Young Audiences of Western New York funded the green roof project and provided the services of Robert Garlow, an instructor from the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture.

Two seventh-grade students who participated have committed their lessons to memory.

"Green roofs have better insulation," said 12-year-old Imari Johnson of Buffalo. "They're more sustainable," added her classmate, Austin Vellarde, who's also 12 and from Buffalo.

Day-to-day activities elsewhere in the school complex are contributing to the green curriculum.

Kitchen waste from the school's cafeteria is composted for use in the greenhouse.

Empty, commercial-size cans that originally held ingredients for student lunches have been recycled -- into planting vessels for herbs. The herbs eventually will find their way into the cafeteria menus.