“We’re going to have the real thing right here,” said P.S. 84 parent Diana Zelvin. “We did it.”
Zelvin and fellow parent Heather Langsner first began advocating for a greenhouse at their children’s school, located at 250 Berry St., after catching word that the principal was interested in building a rooftop garden.
“We had $100,000 privately, we had fundraisers, a garden party and a bake sale and it wouldn’t have happened without our parents,” Zelvin said of the $2 million project. “We are so excited to be the very first greenhouse classroom in Brooklyn.”
The new 24,000-square-foot greenhouse is expected to provide hands-on curriculum on soil-enriching insects, hydroponic systems and nutrient film technique (NFT) systems, a method that provides a low flow of nutrient-filled liquid to plants to accelerate growth.
P.S. 84 principal Sereida Rodriguez first began discussing a rooftop garden at her school in an effort to put a focus on environmental awareness.
“We started with this tiny little dream of having a rooftop garden and that grew into a rooftop greenhouse laboratory for our children,” Sereida said.
Her school has added arts to the conventional STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum, or “STEAM” as she called it
“Our children are not just going to learn about the hydroponics,” Sereida said. “It’s about global warming, it’s about sustainability. It’s the skills of the 21st Century and they’re going to be learning that here in the first rooftop greenhouse in Brooklyn.”
Standing in the space where the new greenhouse will soon be built, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, an alumni of P.S. 84’s forerunner P.S. 37, said he is excited to see the progression of environmental awareness in his community.
“When I was growing up, we never heard the words sustainability, hydroponic, climate change, we knew nothing about the environment,” Lentol said. “Just think of where we’ve come, and where kids as a result of this project are going to be.”
Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna added that she hopes to see other schools in the borough also take the initiative and pursue rooftop garden infrastructure to further their cultural education.
“We are able to teach families about the environment and what it means to be able to have a sustainable community,” Reyna said. “This is now the model for a borough-wide initiative that we are going to start at Borough Hall.”