Belfast Rotary Club President Nathan Goldberg, far right, and Foundation Chair Art Hayes, second from right, give members of the Troy Howard Middle School Garden Project a check for their outdoor kitchen. Shown receiving the check are, from left, Sam Lear, Asa Lewis and Caleb Bixby, along with their teacher, Jon Thurston.

The club solicited donations from its members and received a district grant to help fund the project. In addition to the Rotary funding, THMS received a service-learning grant through MSAD 34. The kitchen currently has a bread and pizza oven, and with the completion of the next phase of construction will be able to process produce from the THMS garden for school and community meals.

Last fall the “student engineering crew” of the Garden Project built the structure and researched and built two soda-can solar hot air heaters. The heaters, along with simple solar fans, were used to heat the kitchen last winter.

This spring, the Rotary funds are being used to finish the structure, including a poured concrete floor with heating coils (Pex tubing) in the slab that will allow the students to build solar hot water panels for radiant heat to supplement the hot-air heaters.