Greenhouse given new life at Westinghouse Academy

After several decades of sitting dormant and being used for storage, the Westinghouse Academy 6-12 greenhouse is back in operation as a fully functional, four-season growing space once again! Last month, teacher Monica Dugan and her ninth-grade biology students were the first class to visit and work in the greenhouse.

Farm Manager Hanna Mosca instructs students in the greenhouse.

Shiloh Farm Manager Hanna Mosca and Redding Jackson, the school’s Learning Garden Educator, led the students in seeding trays of microgreens that they will grow to learn about plant growth while feeding their beloved classroom pet, Norbert the bearded dragon. “It’s been a great opportunity for students to see where our food comes from and to see how easy it is to create a space in the middle of an urban center to grow plants that contribute to everyone’s well-being. Feeding our pet lizard from the greenhouse is an added bonus that has really made it fun for the kids!” says Dugan.

The renovation of the greenhouse began in the winter of 2016 after three teachers at the school applied for a grant through Grow Pittsburgh’s Garden Sustainability Fund program, with the intent of reviving the greenhouse as a hands-on, environmental learning space. The final stages of the renovation were completed this past fall, including the installation of a waterline and irrigation system and replacement of all the glass by the Pittsburgh Public Schools facilities team.

Nestled between two biology classrooms in the building, students and teachers visit the space daily to water and check on the plants. The greenhouse complements the school’s Learning Garden that it was awarded in the spring of 2017, and it will serve as a space to grow seedlings for the garden in the future. Dugan is thrilled about this new growing experience for her students, noting that “they have shown excitement, interest and ownership over the whole process, from clearing the space to now caring for and harvesting the microgreens and other plants”.