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Tranquility Adventist School Adds Outdoor “Classroom”

Published 5/9/12

Students at New Jersey Conference’s Tranquility Adventist School in Tranquility, N.J., recently built a brand new “classroom.” They built this “outdoor classroom” from a recreational vehicle enclosure frame that a church member donated.

James Hunt, the school’s principal, boasts two green thumbs and quite an imagination. He saw the makings of the greenhouse while at a Tranquility church member’s house. “I saw the pile of pikes and thought, ‘wow, that would make a nice greenhouse,’” he recalled.

It took a while before they got the courage to build the greenhouse. A greenhouse company donated the plastic covering and Lowe’s home improvement store donated $50 worth of lumber and hardware. The storm door was taken off the pastor’s front door. The older students tried several times before successfully and correctly placing the cover on the greenhouse. After failing twice, Jacob Gang wasn’t discouraged. “Mr. Hunt, we can do it. Let’s take it all down” and try again, he said. The third time was the charm.

With their greenhouse in place, the students planted cool weather seeds in bowls in late February, which they transplanted into trays three weeks later. Then during the first week of April, the students transplanted them again into the floor of the greenhouse. Now a healthy crop of collards, kale, broccoli, spinach, lettuce and cabbage is flourishing. “We plan to give the produce to the students’ families and local church members,” Hunt says. “In the process the students are learning hands-on science, gardening, building and how to work.”

However, he believes that one of the most important lessons, his students are learning is a spiritual one. “When you get to those weeds early, there’s not much of a battle,” he says. “It’s kind of like sins in our lives, if you get them early in life and get them out and you’ll have a much easier time later on.”

As for the students, when asked what they love most about gardening, they said the following:
“I like getting to eat it,” said fourth-grader Marvin St. Luc.

“You get to be outside and watch plants grow,” said Jacob Gang.

Second-grader Dorina Hernandez,said, “I like digging the holes and planting so we don't have to eat stuff from cans.”

And kindergartener Ashleigh Wilkens said, “I like to see all the little animals in the soil.”

The school will be conducting their second children’s summer gardening class for the community. Transplants for that class will be started in this greenhouse also. “Many lasting friendships were made through the class last summer,” Hunt says. “Twelve different families participated. Somehow battling bugs, dirt, sweat and heat proved a great way to make friends.”

Students are now growing tomato plants, peppers and eggplants. When the next school year starts, the greenhouse will be used again to provide the students with a fall gardening experience.

Photos by James Hunt

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