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UASD considers greenhouse updates

Upper Adams School District (UASD) opened discussion regarding Biglerville High School’s outdated greenhouse July 19.

Biglerville High School Principal Beth Graham presented overviews regarding the district’s greenhouse, which for the past three years, has been held together with collision tape, she said.

Prior to COVID-19, the district began work with experts to take a look at the grounds.

Challenges and issues arising of the existing greenhouse include tears and weakening to the decades old covering which only had a life expectancy of three to five years, she said.

“You go out and look close enough, you can see those repairs,” she said.

The fencing around the greenhouse was installed after the greenhouse construction and there is approximately six inches between the base of the structure and the fence to actually get around it.

“Which makes it nearly impossible to do a major repair on it and even maintain the weeds and stuff around it,” Graham said.

The aged heater in the greenhouse also does not keep a constant temperature, according to Graham.  

At their functionality, greenhouses provide an optimum growing laboratory experience for kids to highlight what industries are utilizing and students are able to produce crops, analyze soil, and nutrients, identify pest control and market what they grow, she said.

UASD students have previously been able to produce poinsettias in the autumn to be sold at Christmas, she said.

With the inconsistency with the green house, the crop growing schedule had to be adapted around the outside environment.

“Which doesn’t provide students with the experience of a true climate controlled agricultural experience,” she said.

The current greenhouse structure has also prohibited the expansion to curriculum like hydroponics, growing without soil, and aquaponics, which utilizes fish to fertilize plants, according to Graham.

With an updated greenhouse, UASD can improve the climate zone to utilize potentially four different climate zones in the same space.

An updated greenhouse would provide students a modernized agricultural experience with climate control and indoor farming to produce products from beginning to end, she said.

Transforming the structure into a more permanent structure would also allow students the ability to produce crops with the potential to be utilized in the cafeteria such as a farm to table set up.

“There is also a satisfaction of the kids being able to start, finish and see their projects through and then ultimately share that with the community,” Graham said. 

Canner Funds have begun pursuing grants and with the board’s approval, would look to support the initiative financially, she said.

The board will next meet August. 2 for a Curriculum and Extra Curriculum meeting and a regular board meeting August 16.

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A.L. Grabenstein, reporter, is a graduate of Philadelphia's La Salle University with a B.A in Communication and has been a journalist since 2016. She has reported for the Gettysburg Times and the Times Herald in Norristown, PA. Grabenstein moved to Gettysburg from Montgomery County in 2019. She was born in San Antonio, TX., and previously lived in Virginia, and North Carolina. Grabenstein is actively involved in the borough of Gettysburg and loves giving voices to the local community.

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