Ridge’s High School of Telecommunications celebrates new rooftop greenhouse

It’s easy being green.

Bay Ridge’s High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology (HSTAT), 350 67th Street, celebrated the grand opening of its newest facility, a rooftop greenhouse, on Friday, October 7.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile joined Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Phil Weinberg, the school’s former principal, and representatives from the School Construction Authority (SCA) for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“It was a long time in coming but today the school’s vision for this rooftop has officially become reality,” said Gentile. “I am pleased to be among you today with all of you who have worked so hard to see this project come to fruition.”

The new facility is a 1,242-square-foot classroom space for over 30 students designed for the study of botany, hydroponics, nutrition and food production. It is also a fully programmable and automated, climate controlled environment which is regulated by the opening and closing of the roof and by exhaust fans which pull in cool, moist air through an evaporative cooler.

Gentile stated that the greenhouse will give students firsthand experience in the field. “Education is not just about textbooks,” he said. “Benjamin Franklin famously said, ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.’ That’s exactly what is going to happen here in this greenhouse. Students will be involved.”

Students are expected to learn to nurture crops from seedlings to harvest in a series of hydroponic systems for growing vegetables including seedling starter trays, vertical planting towers, Dutch-bucket systems and Nutrient Film Technique tables.

“It will promote healthy eating and spark interests and career ideas for our high school students,” Gentile added. “What a wonderful way to learn and a great way to open up students’ thinking of the career possibilities offered to them from their learning here.”

Gentile allocated $725,000 and levied $250,000 from former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz for the project, which was conceived in large part by Weinberg. The SCA also allocated $1.9 million for the reconstruction of the auditorium roof, which will provide an additional 5,700 square feet for outdoor planting projects.

The greenhouse will allow for educational programs that run throughout the year. A small weather station at the top of the greenhouse and a climate sensor inside the greenhouse communicate with the control system to maintain suitable conditions inside the greenhouse.

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