Rooftop garden: one step closer to a green school

English teacher Kathleen Harsy is the main advocate for a rooftop garden atop our very own RBHS. A rooftop garden is just what it seems to be: a garden on top of a building, used to grow vegetables and herbs, reduce energy costs, and just overall make greener choices.

Although Harsy is head of this project, there are many other people involved. Tim Scanlon, Kirstin Bacon, Tom Dignan, John Izaguirre, and the SEE team students and teachers Jame Holt, Jennifer Waldock, and Dan Mancoff are all involved in the garden, and will be reaching out for more support.

The purpose of a rooftop garden at RB is basically to have an interactive green space. Students can actually do something instead of just sitting and learning in a textbook. It expands on the fact that the green movement isn’t just a fad, but it is how the world really works now. The garden also creates interdisciplinary opportunities within the school, meaning that English could coincide with the science department in projects concerning the garden.

Harsy said “[The garden would] foster a new generation of environmental stewards.” There are connections to the Character Counts program with the garden, as well has being able to make direct lesson plans to reflect upon it.

“Kids get so excited about it. They think going up to the roof is so cool,” said Harsy.

A rooftop garden could reduce energy costs and allow students and staff to interact with a living ecosystem. Not only that, but students and staff could actually consume the vegetables and herbs that will be grown in the garden, which could improve the food choices in the cafeteria. 

Part of the funding for the garden is coming from last year’s senior gift, which is when the idea really got kicked off. It is not funded by the school, so Harsy and others are in the process of getting outside grants to fund the rest of the garden, which will be about $5000. 

The restaurant Uncommon Ground has a rooftop garden, and Harsy has been in contact with them about RB’s plans for one.

Safety is not an issue because the school already has easy and safe access to the roof.

“Administration is really open to this idea. It really speaks to how committed they are to the best practices for teachers and students,” said Harsy.