On Sept. 20, members of the City of Maryland Heights were joined by Pattonville High School science teacher Amy Schwendemann for the grand opening of Waste Connection's Sustainability Campus. In 2020, the City of Maryland Heights was awarded a grant for $850,000 for the Greenhouse, Garden and Sustainability Center Project. Located next door to Pattonville High School, this five-acre property will become the home of a campus focused on urban agriculture and renewable resources. The first phase of the project features the construction of two Ceres Net Zero greenhouses. One of the greenhouses will be used exclusively by Pattonville students and faculty, providing a unique hands-on learning experience.
“We had the opportunity to be part of the planning process and got to help design the space,” science teacher Amy Schwendemann said. “We divided the greenhouse into two parts with a wall so we have a classroom space and the rest of it will be the greenhouse.”
About 90 students are enrolled in the Applied Science and Technology classes at Pattonville High School and they will use the space to cultivate herbs, vegetables and flowers and learn about sustainability.
A walkway from the high school to the new greenhouse was built and the City of Maryland Heights purchased additional supplies to be used.
“We will have normal grow tables inside the greenhouse which is using soil like normal to grow plants, but we will also utilize aquaponics,” Schwendemann said. “An aquaponic is essentially a 200-gallon fish tank, and instead of us having to add nutrients to the water, the nutrients that the fish provide will help us grow the plants.”
The garden created and maintained by Schwendemann’s Applied Science and Technology classes at Pattonville High School will be converted and used in other ways and the students will continue to use the hydroponics installed in the cafeteria and E-wing.
“We have plans of turning that outside space into an orchard. We've got a couple of peach trees started and some raspberry bushes,” she said. “We’re going to be back and forth quite a bit between here and next door, but we’re going to have a lot of opportunities to work and learn.”
Science teachers Megan Kemper, Rob Lamb and Schwendemann and assistant principal Dr. Jon Fitzgerald attended the grand opening event.