US (NJ): Millville High School greenhouse nurtured by community

The greenhouse opened in September as part of an ongoing renovation of the senior high campus. Environmental science teachers Darren Carr and Mike LaTorre manage the greenhouse and its growing program. For the program, Carr and LaTorre reached out to the Espoma Company, a Millville-based, century-old business that is family owned and is a provider of organic fertilizers in the retail lawn and garden industry. Espoma donated potting soil and fertilizer to the greenhouse.

The Espoma donation will enhance the sustainability of the greenhouse, LaTorre said. “We would like the greenhouse to become self-sustainable by utilizing ‘seed saving’ and using biodegradable pots and organic fertilizers and potting mixes,” LaTorre said.
The pair were then put in contact with the Holly City Development Corp., which created the Millville Community Garden. The community garden, which is part of an effort to rejuvenate downtown Millville, gave tomato and pepper seeds to the greenhouse. Science teacher Brenda Hoffman also contributed seeds.

Amplifying the giving atmosphere that had taken hold among Millville gardeners, Lisa Caraway, of Holly City Development, connected the teachers with Jeff Quattrone, founder of the Library Seed Bank, an organization that helps nonprofits establish seed libraries across South Jersey. Quattrone gave the greenhouse several seed varieties, and the greenhouse will in turn donate seeds to the seed bank. Among those donated include the Garden State tomato, the tomato variety used in the original tomato soup recipe of Campbell’s, which is based in Camden. 

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