CHAUMONT Lyme Central School was the only rural school in the state selected by Cornell University, Ithaca, this year to receive funding for a high-tunnel garden.
Vegetables will be planted in raised beds full of topsoil within a 20-foot-by-48-foot-high tunnel made out of plastic stretched across arched steel ground posts. The school, 11868 Academy St., would have had a hard time growing produce otherwise in the clay-based ground.
Principal Barry K. Davis said he is elated Lyme Central was chosen June 13 to receive the materials, and he has big plans for the yet-to-be-constructed high tunnel.
At the elementary level we have life-cycle lessons, and in kindergarten rooms they can do that planting, he said when reached by telephone Wednesday. Lets say maybe there would be mixed greens for the cafeteria I envision that. One of my long-term goals is for the economic benefit of these tools. We used to have dairy farms here, but not anymore. Maybe if they diversify in farming, this will be profitable.
Stephanie A. Graf, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson Countys youth and family development program leader, said school personnel will receive supplies to construct the tunnel and, with assistance from folks at Cornell, will build the structure themselves. The cost of the project will run between $7,000 and $10,000, Mrs. Graf said.
The school also will receive $1,500 toward gardening supplies from local stores. Structure supplies will arrive this fall. At the end of the 2012-13 school year, Lyme Central personnel will decide if they want to keep the tunnel or give it back to Cornell.
Mrs. Graf said the high tunnel is a wonderful opportunity for Lyme Centrals 365 students.
I see this as taking education to the people, and theyll be doing practical application for lifelong learning, she said. Maybe kids would even apply it at home.
She said one idea theyd like to try next spring is a student-run business planting flowers early, then selling them and using the funds for student activities at the school.
Matthew P. Greene, extension 4-H community educator, said the high tunnel will extend the growing season by a month.
Lyme Centrals love of gardening began long before the Cornell grant. Mrs. Graf said the extension has worked with the school for the past couple of years. In 2010, the extension, school and Lyme Community Foundation became partners to create a salsa garden in raised soil beds behind the foundation.