The Carson City School District Board of Trustees voted to change the Greenhouse Project’s ground lease agreement, providing the nonprofit an opportunity to move forward on a more self-sustaining operation on 1.7 acres on its Carson High School site.
In June, President Karen Abowd and Executive Director Jon Ruiter presented a proposal to the board to use additional property at CHS that would establish a teaching farm on 1.75 acres of land to the east side of the school to be built in two phases. The plan first involved vermiculture to compost approximately 5 gallons of food waste from the school or other district sites, then to develop nursery crop propagation and sell plants, shrubs and trees to the community in efforts to make the project self-sufficient and provide educational opportunities to Carson students.
Superintendent Richard Stokes, returning to the board Dec. 14, said Abowd and Ruiter’s ideas have changed the organization’s approach. He referred to various fundraising efforts, including concerts and chef’s dinners that previously provided as the initial sole support and sustainability for the program
“The Greenhouse Project is very magnanimous in its mission to feed the underprivileged and to teach students agricultural concepts and provide at very basic level in the (Comprehensive Life Skills) program,” Stokes said.
Among some of the terms of the agreement, CLS students would have access to the Greenhouse for one class period during the day for the school year, with the district providing a special education paraprofessional and support staff to oversee the students. One certified agriculture teacher will teach one plant science class per year, and the CHS culinary arts program also will be able to use the facility for its herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables for up to 10% of its total production and provide compostables. The Greenhouse also would serve as a destination for field trips for other campuses.
The Greenhouse Project also seeks to provide 14 jobs, including two full-time equivalent positions — a manager and assistant manager — with 12 work-study positions for students.
The proposal includes 1.7 acres on the school’s campus situated to the north of the solar panels near the greenhouse with a composting plant, Stokes said. The plant would take in organic material for producing and maintaining worms that digest soil amendments for agricultural needs.
Stokes said the district and the Greenhouse Project have enjoyed 11 years as community partners, with Abowd adding similar work is going on in the Midwest to compost school food waste.
“They’re making a big deal about this,” she said. “I’m thinking, we’re already doing this. We’re pretty proud of our community and our school district.”
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