Patton students build greenhouse

Patton students build greenhouse, pollinator garden
Posted on 04/04/2022
Morganton, NC – Monday, April 4, 2022

Patton High School students are ready for the growing season as they take the classroom outside to a greenhouse and garden. Chris Collins’ science class and Clay Nelson’s engineering class joined forces to apply for a grant to build a greenhouse in 2020. The materials arrived just as COVID-19 shuttered school buildings, and while COVID may have delayed construction for two years, it didn’t stop the classes from learning valuable lessons in perseverance and using solar energy to raise crops and be self-sufficient. The greenhouse is now not only complete, but also outfitted with solar panels to power the exhaust fan and a motor in a nearby pond of the new pollinator garden.

The first seeds sprouting out of the lessons are tomato seedlings and plants growing in the greenhouse and fruit trees are next. Seeing the project from start to finish has been the most rewarding part to the students. Student Coley W. said “We are able to start seedlings earlier in the year so they can harden off in the greenhouse and we can plant them earlier and have a more durable season.”

Student Ethan L. explained how the solar panels work. He said, “The power from the larger solar panel goes into a controller inverter and it inverts and burns some of the energy into the battery that is hooked up into the fountain in the pollinator herb garden because the battery can only handle so much energy.”

Coy fish and bluegill live in the pond next to the greenhouse. The pond creates a water-dense environment so the pollinator herb garden can thrive.

Collins said it is all the start of a small orchard and eventually a “food forest.” He explained, “A student would be able to leave school and walk through the food forest and by the time they go from one end to the other they would have fruits, vegetables, eggs because eventually I would like to get chickens,” Collins said. “Why not learn how to grow your own food. The whole idea behind this was self-sufficiency and the solar panels, again, was so that we would not have to be reliant on the power grid. It is to show them, as well, to not be intimidated.”

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Swan said, “The patience and hard work for these classes have paid off not only for them, but for our environment as well. It is exciting to see classroom lessons turn into hands-on experiences that impact students for a lifetime.”
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