North’s grows greenhouse


Additional photos and information regarding the greenhouse can be found on the greenhouse website, which was created by senior Amelia Ham. The website features before and after photos to portray the growth of the greenhouse, a newsletter to keep up with new events and progress, as well as additional articles and resources for students to learn about topics such as hydroponics and composting.

Vivian Richey, Writing Wizard

In 2020, a greenhouse was added to Parkway North as the result of former Environmental Science teacher Russell Barton and a team of students who won the Lexus Eco Challenge and an approximately $40,000 grant. This grant was then used for construction and planning of the Parkway North greenhouse.
Now, North has its own group of students working to provide sustainability and eco-friendly resources for the school and community.
“We are growing herbs for Mrs. Samardzic and the FACS department while they’re in their herb unit. It’s really neat because we’re able to help out while working on the greenhouse and learning about gardening,” said senior Amelia Ham.
Students work after school daily to do various gardening activities such as cultivating plants, maintaining a pest free environment and transferring plants as they transition and grow.
“The main goal of the greenhouse was to create a learning space for students at North,” said greenhouse sponsor Dr. Wendy Freebersyser. “The greenhouse is a place for hands-on real-world learning that creates a bounty that can be donated to the school and the broader community. This is a place for students to follow a passion beyond the classroom.”
Aside from gardening, the greenhouse provides students with opportunities to learn about sustainable agriculture, hydroponic grow systems and campus beautification. Furthermore, involvement with the greenhouse enhances skills in managing a website, writing newsletters and planning fundraisers.
“Once I started, I really liked the problem solving that we had to do. I was introduced to the hydroponic stuff, and I was super interested in it immediately. I hope that, by the end of my time working on the greenhouse, we have a set club for it with more members,” said Ham.
Working in the greenhouse is like any other club. It’s a way to meet new people but also work with plants and help the environment all at once.
“I had Dr. Freebersyser for Pre-Calculus and she used to talk about [the greenhouse]. I was already interested in composting, so that’s why I got involved. I am really glad I started working on it. I already had an interest in environmental subjects, and the greenhouse was a really good way to further that interest and learn,” said senior Suryansh Mishra.
Students can also receive A+ and National Honor Society (NHS) hours by working on the greenhouse. NHS even has its own greenhouse committee for students who may want to specialize in fostering the greenhouse.
Although the greenhouse is up and running, there are still several lingering issues.
“There are a lot of issues behind building the structure: Cost of materials, cost of labor, maintenance costs for electricity, etc. In addition, the greenhouse is an extension of the classroom but does not currently have a paid position or a class that it is connected with, so a big question that is still being answered is what will the greenhouse be used for? Who will oversee things? How will ‘student learning’ happen? How many students, staff and community members can be drawn into the space to maximize the potential. This is an ongoing process,” said Dr. Freebersyser.
The greenhouse is always looking for students to help out and contribute to the garden whether it be coming after school every once in a while or even donating a spare pot or shovel.
“There are plenty of ways that students can help out by joining an event, volunteering or signing up for service learning class to work in the greenhouse everyday and create their own project based learning experience,” said Dr. Freebersyser.
Seniors Mikenna and Amelia Ham are doing their own independent studies with the greenhouse regarding their own specific interests and hobbies within the garden.
“Me and my sister are both doing independent studies. I really love that we are able to work with the FACS department and help as well as growing food for the school’s food pantry,” said Mikenna.
With the greenhouse being mostly student led, students are getting resources from the Parkway North community by their own doing.
“We get things mostly from grants and fundraisers. At this time, we are planning several fundraisers for the winter and spring. We also ask for donations. Our job is to create a space that is not only self sustaining, but also benefits the community,” said Dr. Freebersyser.