Students help with school’s greenhouses

WILTON – It rained a little on April 11, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the students at Florence Rideout Elementary School.

All of the students, grades 1-5, assisted in moving a pile of soil into two new greenhouses at the Tremont Street entrance to the 1895 building. After April vacation, the students will fill them with the vegetables they planted in February. The process was barely organized chaos, but it worked well: Several fifthgrade boys shoveled the dirt into pails, which students carried around the corner to the greenhouses, a round-robin effect.

Project coordinator Deb Roske, the school’s food services manager, directed the filling and kept it raked smooth. They filled several large plastic pots, as well. Those will be planted with herbs and flowers. The greenhouses were assembled by the fifth grade. When they have been planted, plastic covers will be added.

The greenhouse project was funded through a grant from Whole Kids Foundation’s Garden Grant Program. The grant was received last year, but delayed because of the construction of the new school. Roske is assisted by school nurse Diana Zoltke and volunteer Rebecca Hawkes.

"The grant paid for everything – the greenhouses, soil, seeds," Roske said. A separate part of the project is a worm farm composting system, which was also covered by the grant. "The kids picked out the vegetables we planted," Roske said, "everything from arugula to zuccini." The plants are currently growing in her greenhouse. During the summer, the plants will cared for by students who volunteer for short periods. The vegetables will be used by the lunch program this fall.