Weeds grow fast. The sustainable environment that the students at Lacombe Composite High School are seeking, by contrast, is growing at a slow and steady pace.
In late 2012, the school’s EcoVision Club opened a six-metre-tall, 10-metre-diameter greenhouse on school grounds.
More than 30 community organizations and businesses pitched in to make the dream a reality.
One and a half years later, the club is finally just about ready to get the geodesic dome’s centrepiece — an aquaponic apparatus that will see barrels of fish spur plant growth — up and running.
The process has been arduous at times and there have been hurdles aplenty.
But students have also had the chance to attend conferences and see how other systems work.
“As we’ve gone to every conference, we’ve discovered something we’re doing wrong,” said Grade 10 student Tizita Hill.
Members of the EcoVision club put in a lot of time to the greenhouse projects, after school and during the day during their spares.
Michael Grocock spent one of his recent free periods shovelling mulch over the greenhouse dirt floor in the stiflingly hot structure to diminish the amount of mud tracked in and out.
Club members and students have had the opportunity to do some planting in the greenhouse this year, with things like sorrel, lemon balm and chives growing and edible on an early April day.
Next year, there will be a designated class for those planting in the greenhouse, a class which teacher Steven Schultz said 40 students have already signed up for.
The idea will be to have the greenhouse shelves stacked with healthy produce all year round, said Schultz.
And once that is a reality, he said an adopt-a-senior program could be instigated.
“We just see a disconnect with older people, and we found out through a survey that the older generation in our community really wants to be involved with young people but also involved in gardening,” said Schultz.
He also sees EcoVision students setting up a mentoring program for students at Lacombe’s two elementary schools.
And while the idea is to have produce from the greenhouse used in the school’s cafeteria next year, Schultz wants the community that helped so much to get the structure built to benefit as well.
“Our dream has always been that this is a shared venture with community and we want them to take advantage of that,” said Schultz.
Dozens of fruit trees have been planted on the grounds around the greenhouse, and there are further plans to put in an outdoor garden area and picnic tables to make the area a community gathering point.