Capital High to sell first crop from new greenhouse

After completing a years-long greenhouse project, Capital High School students will hold a sale for their first crop this week. The greenhouse on the CHS campus was constructed in 2019 by CHS teachers including science teacher David Tuss, special education teachers Heather Shippen and Laura Ortman, math teacher Ryan Swenson, shop teacher Eric Croft, and several students who were part of a summer pre-employment transition services program. According to Tuss, the group had help from at least two volunteers, Larry Comer and Josh Chisholm.

"Basically, nearly two months of donated time by many great volunteers," Tuss said. Once the structure was built, the team had to install electrical and water hookups. The initial plan was to have the greenhouse operational by the spring of 2020, but that was put on hold following the cancellation of in-person instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the fairly recent completion of the 20-by-24-foot space, the Green Club planted four varieties of tomatoes and three varieties of pepper plants as the first crop. Tuss said these are plants that are easy to grow and offer an opportunity for the students to learn the steps involved in large-scale growing operations. "By growing these plants from seed, we all learned a lot about how much time, energy, and attention to detail it takes to grow plants in our new greenhouse," Tuss said. "These lessons will certainly help us plan future projects."

The greenhouse itself features 10-foot sidewalls and two double-door entrances that are ADA accessible to accommodate all students. It has electrical hookups to power two vents and large fans that are controlled by the building's thermostat. The building also had an electric-powered ridge vent, indoor air circulation fans, and lights along with 10 electrical outlets. Additionally, it is hooked up with running water, which is connected to an indoor sink and overhead hose system for watering. Tuss said they will continue adding features to the greenhouse to make it more functional and usable for educational opportunities as time goes on.

"The greenhouse was constructed as a functional space to serve a variety of purposes and all students at CHS. One of the main uses of this space is for pre-employment transition services whereby students can get on-site job skills training by working in this space," Tuss said. "Another use of this space is to have a place for students to learn about sustainable gardening and the biology of plants through various projects conducted in their science classes."

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