October 20, 2010

Greenhouse to Be Built for Hudson Public Schools

Hudson High School
As the new food revolution sweeps the globe, public policy makers and other civil workers are really starting to pick up on the potential of food production to reconnect citizens to their food source, increase awareness of health and environment, and develop deeper community involvement. 

Soon Hudson High School in Hudson, Iowa will be even greener. The school district hopes to break ground next month on a new greenhouse that will be located near the high school. The structure will measure 24-feet-by-48 foot and will feature bedding plants,
herbs and vegetables, some specialty plants, and a hydroponics lab. Students from grades k through 12 will learn about horticulture, sustainable food production, marketing, and even advertising technique. At the end of each semester, all classes will likely participate in a community plant sale.

Although this project does not constitute 'urban agriculture' (as Hudson is not a city), it sets quite a progressive model for progressive cities to look up to. The greenhouse will cost only $25,000 to construct and will be completed in a very short time of three or four weeks. At 1152 square-feet of floor space, the construction cost will be less than $22 per square foot! That's less than the cost of mid-range carpeting. 

The project is funded by a local option sales tax, and if you do the math, each of Hudson's residents will pay approximately $8.00 for the new greenhouse. Seems like a pretty good deal...

Rainbow Plus, the proposed greenhouse design by Stuppy Greenhouse
We believe that this one single example in a small town in Iowa demonstrates for us all that it is entirely feasible to introduce food production and education into our public school systems in a timely and cost-efficient manner. An average New York City school has a roof area ten to twenty times greater than the area of the greenhouse planned for Hudson, and many are much larger than that. In an age when many children are unable to correctly identify common vegetables such as tomatoes and potatoes, imagine the potential of growing 20,000 square feet of herbs and vegetables on the rooftop of a city school (not to mention the development of new community relationships and a fantastic new image for urban education).

Truly sustainable farming is a practice that requires the expertise of intelligent people from a wide range of disciplines. Rather than perpetuate the notion that food is only grown by farmers in the Midwest, we have an opportunity to promote to our youngest generation the idea that organic food production can happen anywhere and at any scale, by anyone with the proper training. And hey, kids love getting their hands dirty, so let's give them that chance.

Check out our previous post: Fast-Food Hydroponics?

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