Nonprofit plans greenhouse project at Carson High School
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A northern Nevada nonprofit group called The Greenhouse Project is proposing creation of a comprehensive teaching farm on land neighboring Carson High School that organizers say would benefit the site’s agriculture students and provide revenue for its operations.
Project leaders told the Nevada Appeal last week they are in the process of filing a composting permit with Nevada’s environmental protection agency for use of the 1.75-acre (0.7-hectare) vacant plot, just east of the school and north of its solar plants.
They also plan to submit a master plan review to Carson City because the nonprofit would operate the site under a special use permit.
The project would be broken into two phases, according to Greenhouse Project President Karen Abowd and Executive Director Jon Ruiter.
The first would consist of vermiculture, or worm composting, to recycle food waste from Carson High and other schools within the district. Eventually, the process would include downtown restaurants involved in a GreenUP waste program. The project would allow up to 5 gallons (19 liters) of food waste from Carson High to be recycled per day in its initial stages.
Ruiter said the second phase is nursery crop propagation in which native plants, shrubs and trees would be cultivated and sold wholesale or retail.
“We believe this is a true win-win scenario that will benefit the community, the CHS students and the long-term sustainability of the Greenhouse Project,” Ruiter said.
The expected budget for phase one is $40,000 and phase two is approximately $99,200, according to the proposal. The organization began raising funds for the expansion earlier this year, so far generating about $50,000, which would allow it to start running phase one during the 2021-22 school year.
Profits would benefit the Greenhouse Project directly and align with Carson High’s agriculture sciences curriculum in addition to providing for Empire Elementary and Eagle Valley Middle schools’ offerings.
Students enrolled in the nonprofit’s agriculture or ornamental horticulture courses at Carson High learn mastery in concepts including the role of agriculture, history of production agriculture, world food supply, and plant science, nutrition and health, among other topics.
The proposal received letters of support from district Career and Technical Education coordinator Candi Ruf and director of operations Mark Korinek, a former Greenhouse Project board member for two years, whose position is now filled by chief financial officer Andrew Feuling.
Korinek also has served on the organization’s action team for 10 years as the Carson City School District’s liaison assisting with fundraising, volunteer needs, concert setup and as a resource for questions regarding Carson High as needed.
“My letter of support outlines how the vermicomposting project aligns with the strategic plan goals and what an opportunity it would be for our CTE/AG students to see sustainability at work, as well as middle and elementary students,” Korinek told the Appeal.
Abowd told the school board last month the strategy is part of a “two-pronged approach” to help the organization pursue self-sufficiency and sustainability after “a year of COVID has forced a new look beyond fundraising to ensure financial security.”
“Not competing but working with local business, the Greenhouse Project has sought the input of local landscapers and nurseries to develop a list of native plants they need and have a hard time getting, and both programs — the expanded teaching farm and the vermiculture composting of school food waste — satisfy a revenue need for the Greenhouse Project and provide educational opportunities for students,” Abowd said.
School board trustee Mike Walker is among the backers.
“I think this is a great project, and it’s a great opportunity for these students and CTE to apply what they’re learning,” Walker said. “There’s an element of problem-solving for both of these projects.”