LYNN — North Shore Community College will unveil its newest campus addition before the start of the fall semester.
A 1,200 square foot greenhouse is currently under construction toward the middle of the Thomas W. McGee building on the north side. The $350,000 greenhouse project is being funded by a state Skills Capital Grant worth $264,906 with the rest of the project’s financial needs being footed by the college and various donors.
“These Skills Capital Grants will help boost our economy and equip students with new skills, knowledge and experience with state-of-the-art equipment across the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “It’s important to train students on the latest equipment that meets current industry standards so when they are ready to enter the workforce, they have the knowledge and best possible training to get a job.”
The greenhouse will support the campus’s Agriculture and Food Services career pathways, such as horticulture, the science behind growing plants and lawn management, culinary arts and medicine, STEM labs, early childhood education and floriculture curriculums. The full-equipped greenhouse will include planting beds, irrigation, lighting and heating systems, aquaponics, rain catchment, composting, sorting tables, and lab test kits.
“We do a program review every year where we take a look at enrollment, completion, and retention for our programs and see what their needs are,” said Patricia Gentile, president of NSCC. “So when the horticulture program was presented to our senior staff, Professor Barbara Heath, the program’s coordinator, said she didn’t even have a place to put her stuff.”
Hoping to find a way to accommodate the small but growing department, the college decided to use the Capital Skills Grant they received during the 2017 fiscal year and put it toward getting a greenhouse. Heath and the college will be partnered with The Food Project in Lynn for use of the greenhouse.
“Once the greenhouse is up and constructed, the Food Project, along with our students, will work on raised beds outside for fruits and vegetables,” said Gentile.
Health and Science students will utilize the greenhouse for lab experiments and viewings of real time applications of sustainable ecosystems while Culinary students will grow and experiment with specialty vegetables and herbs to be served at the campus Café. Students within the small business entrepreneur curriculum will also be able to experience the process of bringing a product to market, according to Gentile.
The Food Project will assist in daily operations while it shares the greenhouse with the college. They will interact with NSCC students in project planning and implementation of garden spaces, educational displays, and assisting with Salad Days throughout Lynn Elementary Schools as part of a future larger movement known as Lynn Grows, according to the college president.
“We had a team go up to UMass Amherst to check out their greenhouse,” said Gentile. “We started this project about a month ago with our greenhouse being modeled after theirs.”