The greenhouse at Walker Elementary School continues to receive community support, as organizers look for ways to expand the program. Built in 2000 through an anonymous donation, the greenhouse serves as a hands-on lab for students, who grow and harvest a variety of fruits and vegetables. Walker Principal Glen Widmer said he is very pleased with the amount of support the program has received, and recently, the school was the recipient of about $2,500 in donations.

One of the donations was made by the Belfast Cooperative, which gave the school a check for $1,279. Widmer said he also recently applied for a Maine Community Foundation grant totaling $4,500 that he hopes to get a response about this summer.

Because of the outpouring of support for the greenhouse program, Widmer said, the school is looking at expanding onto some nearby property as a possible location for some raised beds. He said he has also been involved in preliminary discussions regarding the construction of a butterfly garden at Troy Elementary School. However, Widmer stressed that the butterfly garden is still in the very early stages of planning.

“It’s been a positive experience overall from everyone’s perspective,” Widmer said of the greenhouse.

Widmer said he hopes more schools can begin growing food and getting students involved in the process. As part of the program at Walker, the greenhouse serves as a means to further explore the curriculum in subjects such as English, math and science. In addition, the food grown in the greenhouse is used in school lunches and served to students as a snack.

While expanding the program is a goal, Widmer acknowledged the progress made this year is due in larger part to the students, teachers and parents who have embraced the effort and volunteered their time and labor. He noted that the addition of Katie Morabito, an associate from FoodCorps, has made the process run smoothly, and she has been successful in keeping the students engaged.

“We couldn’t really do it without Katie and the FoodCorps support,” he said.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrookcourierpublicationsllc.com.