Hoop house means year-round produce for Yarmouth school nutrition program

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YARMOUTH — With the change in seasons the Yarmouth School Garden will once more come to life as a food source, a classroom and a community service project.

This year, the addition of a hoop house will extend the growing season and provide fresh produce year-round.

Becki Schreiber, the director of the school nutrition program, said while the garden supplies the students with fresh vegetables in the fall months, the addition of a hoop house will allow students to enjoy fresh lettuce year-round and provide the local food pantry with the excess produce.

A hoop house is an all-season greenhouse covered in plastic that uses solar energy to provide enough heat for plant growth throughout the winter.

Schreiber said with materials coming from Ed Person of Ledgewood Farms Greenhouse Frames in New Hampshire and the help of a 10th-grade adviser class, the hoop house will be erected over the next few months at the Elementary School next to the school district garden.

“This will be a learning process every step of the way,” Schreiber said. “We want to extend the seasons and have year round access to lettuce.”

She said her vision for the hoop house is modeled after one at the Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast. Their hoop house has two rows of raised beds, a middle aisle and an underground worm composting system, she said.

“We try to incorporate education and health into everything we do with the garden,” she said.

Teachers and local service organizations will continue to use the garden for educational and community service projects, Schreiber added.

Math and science teachers use the garden teach genetics, diversity and counting; the third-grade curriculum incorporates the butterfly garden into the lesson plan; a local 4H Club maintains a strawberry patch and Eagle Scouts have built compost bins and benches for final projects.  

The Alumni Association will provide a high school student with a grant to work on the garden over the summer and the Yarmouth Community Pantry will receive excess vegetables from the crops, Schreiber said.

“The garden provides so much more than food for the salad bar,” she said. “We always need volunteers to help us with the garden and each year, with the help of many, watch it thrive.”

To learn more about the district garden, volunteer or help with the hoop house, visit ysgarden.wikispaces.com or email school_garden@yarmouthschools.org.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her of Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.