BY Rebecca Okolita
Old Rochester Regional High School
Our goal is to build an organic community garden and greenhouse at our school site. Our Transition Education Program is a new program that helps 18-22 year olds with severe disabilities with vocational, community, social, safety, and life goals. Our hope is to build a garden and greenhouse, learn all aspects of gardening and working with the community, and then sell our grown produce at the local farmer’s market. Once we have a garden and greenhouse up and running, my hope is that we eventually build towards a school-wide composting program also reducing the amount of waste in both the junior and high schools. I have students with a range of physical, cognitive, and linguistic abilities. I believe that this greenhouse and garden would not only benefit them in their educational growth but also help them with lifelong vocational pursuits and community engagement.
How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)
Hopefully the project will demonstrate success through community and school involvement. My students will also learn new vocational skills that can transcend to their future employment. Additionally, if we are able to successfully grow produce, we will be able to sell it at the Farmer’s Market and therefore have the ability to learn additional vocational, social, language, and community skills through selling our goods within the tri-town area. Although I have four students, I am also hoping to work with the younger severe special education population as well as the general education population so that we can build upon community and school involvement.
Benefit to the students and the school
The benefits of this garden and greenhouse are endless. Students are learning lifelong positive vocational and social skills, reducing community waste, learning about “clean living” and not making a carbon footprint, eating and growing healthy produce, and sharing in community experiences with one another. I do not only think this program would benefit my students in particular but would benefit the ENTIRE communities of Rochester, Marion, and Mattapoisett. This garden and greenhouse will give my students the confidence and skills to be successful citizens.
Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)
I am hoping that we will have our garden beds finished by this year and begin building our greenhouse by the next school year.