Grant supports use of Bentley greenhouse

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., May. 12, 2011
Pam Murphy (left) shows seventh-grader Brittney, eighth-grader Ester and eighth-grader Lindsay rye grass, which they sprouted for use in arrangements for the Board of Education. Photos by Martha Marteney.
Pam Murphy (left) shows seventh-grader Brittney, eighth-grader Ester and eighth-grader Lindsay rye grass, which they sprouted for use in arrangements for the Board of Education. Photos by Martha Marteney.

In the fall of 2010, through the efforts of the Foundation for Manchester Public Schools, Bentley Alternative Education received a $5,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation to support curriculum development and the use of the greenhouse. A portion of the funds have been used to-date for purchasing books and gardening materials, and the program is expected to extend into the 2011/2012 school year.

According to Bentley Principal Robbin Golden, the Foundation was first contacted by the school’s social worker, Tom Nicholas, about grant sources. When the grant was awarded, math teacher Pam Murphy, who is also the school’s Teacher of the Year and is certified both in math and science, stepped up to the challenge. “When we got the grant, she just jumped right in,” said Golden.

“We offer not only core academics,” explained Golden, “but electives as well. We know our students really enjoy hands-on activities, and many have never had the opportunity to garden.”

In addition to building the curriculum to incorporate the greenhouse activities into both science and math classes, Murphy has taught the students how to germinate seeds, transplant the young seedlings and maintain the soil. She has also shown flower arranging, and students will create presentations for the Board of Education using their own plants and flowers. The students have sampled their fresh vegetables, such as bok choy, and have discussed the use of certain herbs, such as basil and cilantro.

“I loved it [the bok choy],” said Lindsay, an eighth-grader. “It was sweet and sour.”

Murphy noted that, for many students, this is their first exposure to certain plants and vegetables. The greenhouse has provided opportunities to discuss cultural differences and to expand the students’ appreciation of fresh food. “It’s a commentary on how far we’re removed from our food source,” said Murphy.


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