|Pattonville teacher expands greenhouse initiative with $15,000 Monsanto Fund grant|
|Tuesday, March 12, 2019|
Last year, Amy Schwendemann led her Applied Science students as they built a greenhouse and garden at Pattonville High School. The facilities provide fresh food for students in need through the school's backpack program. But the nature of the growing season meant most of the produce was unavailable during the school year. That’s no longer the case thanks to a $15,000 Food and Nutrition Grant Schwendemann received from the Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of Bayer.
Schwendemann used the grant funds to buy and install hydroponic wall towers in the E wing and cafeteria at the high school. Hydroponics refers to growing plants without soil. The towers help bridge the typical growing season gap from October through April. Students cultivate and harvest different fruits, vegetables and herbs grown in the towers. The Applied Science class collaborates with a Food Science class to find creative ways to package the produce so that it appeals to students and has a longer shelf life. Some methods they have learned include dehydrating and canning.
“Installing the towers enables us to continue to grow and provide healthy produce for our backpack program here at school,” Schwendemann said. “I’m so thankful to the Monsanto Fund for providing these funds to support our efforts to grow this program and provide meaningful, real-world learning experiences for our students.”
Some funds will go toward improving the greenhouse constructed by students and staff. Plans include installing electricity for heat and light and adding another layer of plastic to the canopy for insulation. This will enable the structure to grow plants for the majority of the school year.
The Monsanto Fund provides grant funding for projects in communities where Bayer employees live and work. The grants focus on the company’s priority giving areas of food and nutrition, education and community development.
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Photos below show Schwendemann and her students assembling the towers.