Owensboro Catholic High School held a ribbon cutting and blessing ceremony Thursday for their new-and-improved 18×36-foot fiberglass greenhouse, which replaced an old unusable one that had a plastic covering which had fallen into disrepair. The new space allows students to be more hands-on with plants and flowers, which could be sold in fundraisers or displayed at a farmers market booth.
The project includes a new building with proper insulations, fans, concrete, shutters, a heater and supplies.
“It’s something I feel that’s really needed in an agricultural program, so kids can actually learn what they’re taking from the classroom and putting it into real life,” said OCHS FFA instructor Erica Tapp. “They’ll be growing plants and learning about the different chemicals that go on them, as well as the soil and the nutrients the plants need.”
The school aims to provide educational opportunities that are rigorous, relevant and tied to positive relationships with students. OCHS Principal Gates Settle admitted their leaders have searched, and sometimes struggled, to provide FFA students with a supervised agriculture experience. He hopes this new feature will create interest and attract many new students to the program.
Tapp said the old greenhouse was built probably close to 20 years ago, and its condition had deteriorated so badly it could no longer be used.
“This new greenhouse is completely different from the old,” Tapp said. “The old greenhouse was a hoop style house with plastic covering it and the floor was pebbles. This new greenhouse is a fiberglass structure with concrete floors, irrigation, a three-phase cooling system, a heating system, shade cloth, and more. It is about 1/2 the size of the previous house. I made the decision to go smaller as we are a small school with a small FFA chapter and I am the only teacher. I wanted to make sure it never gets in the shape of the previous house.”
Tapp said the greenhouse will be used to grow seasonal flowers, vegetable starters, and herbs, as well as ferns, hanging baskets and planters. The greenhouse will be used for in-classroom instruction (greenhouse class, plant science, agriscience, soils, and weeds) and for FFA instruction and fundraisers.
The total project cost came in at just under $100,000 with many private donors, businesses and a grant from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund.
“We are so excited to have this addition to the agriculture instruction at this school,” Tapp said. “A greenhouse is something every ag program and FFA should have. We are very excited to see where it goes in the future.”