May 6, 2020 by Sophia Oomen-Lochtefeld (HHS Class of 2020)
Though the Hingham Public Schools schools remain closed, crops from the Hingham High greenhouse continue to serve the broader community. This week, the HHS greenhouse program donated a harvest of freshly grown hydroponic lettuce to the Hingham Food Pantry. The crops, planted in the greenhouse hydroponic arrays prior to school closure, were originally intended to be served in the now empty high school cafeteria.
The care of the HHS greenhouse, which is used primarily by botany and environmental science classes, has been a particular passion project for HHS seniors Sophia Oomen-Lochtefeld, Carl Rasmussen and Molly Bombard, as well as junior Betsy Gross, all of whom participated in an independent study in the high school greenhouse this winter with HPS Science Director, Katie Roberts. The independent study students worked to plant and grow lettuce for the school cafeteria, chose and raised vegetables and herbs, started flowers from seed, and even learned how to set up an aquaponics system. It was an educational and fun experience that offered a welcome hands-on reprieve from their otherwise largely academically focused school days.
Although they were not able to harvest the final rounds of lettuce themselves, watch their flowers come to bloom, or even go on some of the field trips they had planned prior to the school’s shutdown, the students are grateful for all they learned in the class and their time in the greenhouse. Molly Bombard expressed that working in the greenhouse instilled a love for plants and gardening in her, and found that it was, “not only easy, but really rewarding to grow lettuce that benefitted the school community - and now the Hingham community at large.” Ms. Roberts harvested the lettuce, as the school is now closed to students, and took home many of the greenhouse plants to maintain them during the closure.
The Hingham Food Pantry, which is an affiliate of the Greater Boston Food Bank, remains open during the COVID crisis and continues to fulfill its mission to make healthy food available to local families. The food pantry is more important than ever in this time when so many are struggling with financial and food security, and the students who helped grow the greenhouse produce are glad to know that their efforts did not go to waste and the food is going to a great cause.