MILWAUKEE — How fun! Going to school to commune with nature.
That's the treat some MPS students are enjoying this year. All thanks to the Urban Greenhouse Revitalization Project sponsored by Sharp Literacy.
"To come in here and see the fish, it's like wow!," shares Sharp Executive Director Lynda Kohler, who helped come up with the idea.
The greenhouse is located at the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center at Browning Elementary School.
"We're all about learning tools. I looked at this as one big learning tool," said Kohler.
Students learn words like solar dehydrator, aquaponics, and hydroponics. It's a classroom experience like none other.
Kohler adds, "Being able to take ownership with our three raised garden beds this year. They pulled weeds, they harvested, they brought vegetables home."
The renovated greenhouse would not be possible without a lot of collaboration.
"A couple years ago when we decided to make the investment, partners like Johnson Controls stepped up. It was a collaboration between Milwaukee Public Schools, Greater Milwaukee Committee, MSOE and of course the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center," explained Kohler.
Kohler admits, "It wasn't just Sharp doing this or Johnson Controls. We have a program with Marquette University men's basketball team, reading with the Golden Eagles. They read to the kids, or they mentor. Fourth and fifth graders don't want to be read to, but they want to talk to the basketball players."
"These players and student athletes take the time to be with these students. That makes them feel special. The Brewers Community Foundation has sponsored our summer program for seven years, the Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv are great supporters of ours. Students learn that healthy foods can taste good," shared Kohler.
She adds, "It's a food desert here. Cultivating this type of project needs strong financial support. We couldn't do it without the funders that we have, Johnson Controls, Financial Literacy. In the summer we have Waterstone Bank and BMO Harris. We also work with the Milwaukee Bucks. These are donors that believe in what we're doing. They believe in the experiences we're giving them, and they want to be a part of it."