There’s a marvelous synthesis when horticulture intersects with education, particularly at the elementary school level. At the Manhattan School for Children, PS 333 on the Upper West Side, the Sun Works Center for Environmental Studies, the “Greenhouse Project”, is a thoughtful and skilled science training project for children K-8.
The Manhattan School for Children is “dedicated to progressive, child-centered education.” The School had an intimate, intense energy, an obvious, but indescribable shift from suburban elementary schools I’d volunteered in years earlier when my son, KC, was growing up. The children were engaged and respectful (to the teacher and one another), enjoying the experience of being in school. Staff was casual and friendly, and there was a heavy parental presence in the building.
Construction of the Greenhouse Project (approximately $800,000) was funded jointly by parents, the school and outside funders. It’s located on the third floor rooftop of PS 333 and has an efficient, yet sophisticated simplicity. The lab is a prototype for the School’s science curriculum, and is used by the 800 students and NYC school system educators. Greenhouse technologies include hydroponic vegetable farming, solar panels, a rainwater catchment system, a weather station and worm composting.
Many vegetable plants were growing vertically supported by string. The Greenhouse also had a teaching lab that allowed classes of up to 40 students at a time to engage in planting, plant maintenance and video presentations.