Spring Issue 2012
A NEW APPROACH TO THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT
ENGAGING STUDENTS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS WITH THE ENVIRONMENT
BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OF DANE COUNTY EXPLORE THEIR FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
ways to explore a new eco design
A new approach to the Greenhouse Effect Spring Harbor Middle School
GREEN SWEEPS students along with how it needs to be prepared and served. These limitations make it difficult to establish an efficient system of reducing waste by possible composting the very small amount of fresh foods. A system like this needs policing and educating until it is second nature. “This school… it should be a no brainer, we should be able to get this under control and have a system in place… but yet, we don’t,” said Ropa.
The greenhouse is projected to be a foundational aspect of the school’’s science program as well as community enrichment. Amy Verhey University of Wisconsin Madison
Above all the struggles Ropa has come up against he is confident that his approach to teaching will create a more independent and environmentally aware individual, especially as they become active citizens and homeowners. “That’s what really matters,” said Ropa in regards to the importance of his teaching methods, “I mean that is what school really is, right?” The project is planned to break ground in May of this year, 2012. After a summer of construction it is hopeful that the students can start contributing to the construction. It is crucial to Ropa that the students play a large role in the entrie greenhouse project. Come winter of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 Ropa hopes to have a full curriculum focused around the greenhouse.
The Spring Harbor Middle School in Madison, Wisconsin has high hopes to install a fully recycled and reclaimed greenhouse on school grounds.
nvironmentally focused magnet middle school, Spring Harbor, Dave Ropa is building a plan to have a self sustaining greenhouse to further the science department’s education through active engage with students and community members. Spring Harbor opened 15 years ago because of the capacity issues with other Madison area schools. The building has been a part of Madison’s east side first established as an elementary school in the late 1950s transitioning to Madison’s Business College and finally Spring Harbor Middle School. The land the school building rests on was once a prairie decorated with Native American mounds offering a playground for science experiments and hands on activities. Ropa develops his own science curriculum deviating from Wisconsin’s suggested FOSS program, Full Option Science System. Ropa’s background includes extensive research in the field of environmental science, allowing him to have the required knowledge to create such a curriculum. This new approach that Ropa takes to environmental science teaches the students the importance of food origins, through work in the school’s two vegetable gardens, a small composting pile and future greenhouse. Ropa is discouraged with the academic calendar in Wisconsin
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that simply doesn’t allow for outside activies year round. By opening a greenhouse it will extend the season an extra two months. The actual construction of the greenhouse will involve the students by working with contractors to make the straw clay walls and artwork, from recycled and reclaimed material. The previous principle chuckled at Ropa nine years ago as he said, “ya know, someday, I’m gonna have a greenhouse out there.” Now with roughly 35 to 40 thousand dollars raised, because of grants and donations, Ropa’s dream of a greenhouse is no longer a passing comment. However, there are challenges with the process. Ropa explained he is building a greenhouse on school grounds, that he does not own, where students will spend a significant amount of time doing research and consuming the fruits and vegetables grown, while acting as a science teacher and not a constructor. Schools that are incorporating the environment into the curriculum are taking a stand to further educate America’s future citizens. The amount of waste produced from a school system is erroneous and difficult to reduce. Ropa briefly talked about the state and district’s guidelines regarding what schools can feed
Students engage in an annual clearing of a near by park as leaves start to fall from the trees.
Permaculture Design Donated Materials Biomass heating system Rain barrels for water Photovoltaic panels Cob oven
Environmental benefits Straw clay insulating Containing solar energy Wood material Controlled and reusable runoff Reclaimed solar panels Self generating energy Reclaimed bricks Heating system and minimal energy cooking Reclaimed glass Sunlight entrance
The Spring Harbor Greenhouse is unique in its Permaculture design. This construction method is growing in popularity throughout the Madison area.
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The graph illustrates the permaculutre design and materials needed to produce the environmental benefits.
F.h. King is konwn as the student organization that works to get the food waste cleaned up and organized. They reach out to other students in order to make changes and education their fellow activists.
Food in Schools:
niversity of Wisconsin seniors, Ali Loker and Mel Ginther, are two deeply devoted members of the F.H. King student organization on campus. These two women worked hard over the past four years to help develop a thriving composting system on campus and beyond. their efforts have been strengthened through the other members in F.H. King and Madison’s unique food culture. Full Cycle Freight is the name of their project which has students reach out to individuals, local businesses, coops and more to collect organic food waste. Student interns travel across campus and to local establishments with two, four-foot long bike trailers that can hold up to 400 pounds of waste. There is an established route that encorporates all who have applied to be a part of this pick up system. The food waste is then transported to the F.H. King Community Garden located in Eagle Heights. The student run Community Garden is a place for the F.H. King members to collaborate and celebrate the land’s abundance of produce. The amount of compost they collect helps to naturally fertilize this land producing a wholesome
Going Beyond the Cafeteria
and sustainable vegetable. This lot of land is home to many outdoor events such as a recent Pig Roast and weekly gardening times while the weather permits. The produce from this garden is collected by the workers as well as handed out to students during F.H. King’s Friday Harvest Handouts. Here students line up to be one of many who can reap the benefits of local, fresh and best of all free produce. Their efforts become full circle when F.H. King interns drag We Conserve bins to the Harvest Handouts event and give students, faculty or community members a chance to dumb their compost. The University of Wisconsin campus offers a unique approach to being active in a perspective area that F.H. King students have taken advantage of. Their efforts are making changes in big ways and hope to be replicated for years to come. While composting may be a popular trend the students involved with F.H. King are making it a way of life. They strive to bring education and awareness about food waste, food sovereightny, and home grown goodness to the forefront.
Photo: F.H. King offers a variety of local and wholesome produce that embodies the slow food movement.
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CARA LADD University of Wisconsin - Madison Environmental Studies and Spanish
or most, talking about food in school typically occurs in one room: the cafeteria. While kids of all ages compare whose mom packed the best lunch, and others argue over what cafeteria options were the best of the day, kids are typically not concerned with where their food comes from, or what sort of ingredients and nutritional content it might contain. Outside of Home Ec classes, which are no longer commonplace in many schools and are rarely a required course, it is not often that curricula include consistent education on food-related topics. And it is true that food is not a formative subject for many higher education courses; it is not required to know the basics of vegetables to get into college. But when you think about it, food is something we interact with typically three times a day. We have already developed favorite foods and certain tastes by the time we even begin school, yet unless you grew up on a farm or have extremely food-conscious parents, it is unlikely that you receive any sort of food education. When we consider the rising rates of certain diseases, especially childhood obesity, it should come as no surprise that the abundance of processed food in the American diet and the lack of knowledge amongst most as to the growing or sourcing of their food is a primary cause. Now, I am not saying that we need to replace math and English classes with cooking, but I do
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think food deserves a place in schools outside of the cafeteria. After all, many schools require health courses, but how many teach students about healthy eating, and how many students are taking it seriously? Certainly not all. I think the phrase, “you can choose to either pay your farmer or your doctor” speaks volumes about the way we treat our bodies, and what our education has to do with it. If we are taught how to eat healthy in schools, and truly taught, not just by listing nutritional information in the cafeteria, then perhaps we will see a positive change in the standard American diet. Badger Rock Middle School, a new charter school in south Madison, seems to be focusing on just that. While still teaching the standard curriculum found in most
GREEN SWEEPS public schools, Badger Rock has infusions of urban agriculture and lessons on food, including an important partnership with the Madison branch of Growing Power. When the permanent facility opens later this spring, the students will have access to a garden in their backyard, where they will be able to do field biology courses and theoretically, cultivate their own food. Though the school maintains the standard curriculum, including math, language arts courses, etc., much of the focus includes food. In many ways, Badger Rock is pioneering the future of public education, and if it goes well, it is possible that we could truly see a difference in not just what kids eat in schools, but what they are being taught about it. People do care about where their food comes from; it’s simply a matter of awakening them to the truth of what they’re eating, and how to efficiently and realistically change their food habits. In my opinion, there’s no better way to initiate this change than in the classroom.
“you can choose to either pay your farmer or your doctor”
Cara Ladd is a junior at University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Spanish and Environmental Studies. She works closely with Slow Food-UW and was part of a team that received a Wisconsin Idea Undergraduate Fellowship for the 2011-2012 school year to do work in South Madison. Cara concentrates most of her work at the new charter school, Badger Rock Middle School.
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