Great Salt Bay Community School has received $23,000 in donations toward a greenhouse, where students will start and care for seedlings before they move to Twin Villages Foodbank Farm.
The Great Salt Bay School Committee accepted the donations Wednesday, Dec. 9. GSB Principal Kim Schaff expects the committee to officially authorize the project next year, after the purchase of the structure.
The 26-by-36-foot, free-standing, heated structure will stand behind the school’s back parking lot, uphill from the school garden and a newly planted orchard. A first phase of site work has been completed.
The local nonprofit Seven Trees Inc. gave $18,000. Nancy Coleman gave $5,000 in memory of her husband, James Coleman. The donations went through Friends of Great Salt Bay School Inc., a nonprofit set up in 2012 with a mission to enrich the education of GSB students.
Margaret Coleman, GSB agriculture coordinator, is spearheading the project. She said the recent donations allowed the nonprofit to reach its fundraising goal of approximately $30,000 for the greenhouse.
The greenhouse project is an extension of a collaboration between GSB and the nonprofit Twin Villages Foodbank Farm that started in 2016. Students in grades five through eight have participated in planting and harvesting produce since that spring through field trips organized by Margaret Coleman.
Margaret Coleman said the greenhouse seedling projects will allow students in the lower grades to participate in hands-on agricultural education as well.
Students will start and care for seedlings in the greenhouse, then they will be planted in the fields at Twin Villages Foodbank Farm. The farm is on Belvedere Road in Damariscotta, on Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust’s Great Salt Bay Farm Preserve.
“The goal is to have all students at Great Salt Bay school play some part in the growing, planting, and harvesting of crops grown both at school and at the Foodbank Farm, and then distributed to people in our community,” Margaret Coleman said.
She said the farm will donate most of the food. Some will be used in the GSB cafeteria and for students cooking with the FARMS at the Y program at the Central Lincoln County YMCA.
Margaret Coleman said the fall harvest of onions and winter squash will be brought back to the greenhouse to cure and dry so students can then help pack the veggies for distribution in the community.
“The greenhouse space will provide a venue for hands-on learning and a direct connection to the cycles of our seasons and food system. The ripple effect will be experiences that support the health of individuals, the community, and our planet,” Margaret Coleman said by email.
Margaret Coleman acknowledged community support and funding from the Maine Community Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation, in addition to the recent donations. She thanked Damariscotta Hardware for donating metal shelving.