On December 6, the Manhattan School for Children (PS 333M), a K-8 public school on Manhattan's Upper West Side, unveiled the first rooftop greenhouse classroom. While there are about 285 school gardens in New York City - part of a growing national trend - this rooftop version is the first and only of its kind.
The classroom is a 1,420-square-foot educational greenhouse laboratory that uses a hydroponic (no soil) growing system and produces zero net carbon emissions. Featuring a computer-regulated smart board, weather station, composting system, and an aquaponic system that raises fish and plants in a sustainable closed cycle, it will serve as a hands-on center for children at the school and those in the community to learn about environmental issues like urban agriculture and sustainability. The center will also produce a projected 8,000 pounds of produce a year to be used by the school.
The $800,000 project was spearheaded by parents Sidsel Robards and Manuela Zamora and funded through two years of fundraising, $200,000 in grants from the City Council, and a partnership with New York Sun Works, a non-profit organization that promotes urban sustainability through science education. This classroom is the first step in New York Sun Works' Greenhouse Initiatives project. It will be followed in the coming months by the opening of a second rooftop greenhouse laboratory at PS 89 in Brooklyn, and a projected 100 educational rooftop greenhouses will be constructed by 2020. For more information about the Greenhouse Initiatives project, visit www.nysunworks.org.