Tetonia Elementary School Greenhouse – $2,000
A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.
— Gertrude Jekyll
At the Community Foundation, our core value is to promote a culture of giving. It is often said that a garden is a gift that never stops giving. In our rural community, we know the value of locally grown produce, and the lessons this process can teach our youth. Gardening offers a sense of purpose and responsibility. Outdoor learning fosters a healthy engagement with the natural world, where students can recognize their interdependency with nature and collaborate to solve problems.
This spring, we awarded Full Circle Education with a grant to enhance the educational value of the Tetonia Outdoor Classroom. Full Circle Education seeks to offer hands-on experience in gardens in its mission to enrich lives and build sustainable communities. The Teton County 401 School District recognized the greenhouse as an integral educational asset to its science curriculum. Full Circle Education offers garden-based education to Tetonia’s students utilizing a Life Lab core curriculum. The lessons incorporate earth, life and physical science concepts, and push students to collaboratively solve problems. The greenhouse extends our short growing season by three months, allowing hands-on learning from March through October.
Outside of the school environment, the greenhouse serves as an important community resource, allowing Tetonia residents to cultivate healthy, local produce and maintain a rich connection to our valley’s agricultural legacy.
Tetonia Elementary School’s existing greenhouse is 11 years old, and has seen significant structural damage. The new greenhouse will be larger and more structurally sound, making it more appropriate for growing class sizes – now up to 30 students – and more apt to withstand Teton Valley’s annual snowfall and unpredictable seasonal weather patterns.
The 16 x 30 structure will be erected mid-May, with the help of Mark Hansen, high school shop and woodworking teacher, and his students’ efforts. It will house raised beds and be equipped with drip irrigation, and have twice the capacity to grow produce. Two heated germination tables will give students the opportunity to grow seedlings in advance of the season, then transplant them into the ground.
Produce grown in the greenhouse will be used for school lunches, harvest festivals, sent home with students and families, sold for future garden programming and donated to University of Idaho’s “Grow a Row” food cupboard. All harvested and distributed produce will be documented.
The Community Foundation is proud to support this organic effort to connect students to their food source, and instill in them a sense of purpose and pride in the life cycle of growing and tending their gardens. We hope this will encourage a lifestyle rich with healthy, environmentally responsible choices, and inspire our youth to be lifelong learners in the natural world.