Govardhana Academy, located at the Saranagati Farm Community in British Columbia (BC), Canada, recently participated in their third year of the BC Green Games – a province wide competition to promote sustainability in schools.
The students filmed a video to display the results of their project, and won $1,000 cash prize in the competition. They are looking forward to using the cash from this prize to improve their community further.
When asked how the cash will be used, Narangi Moore, a student at Govardhana Academy said, “We are in the middle of building a playground for children who would like to come here, and we would also like to do repairs to our school.”
To enter the competition, the students of Govardhana Academy and members of Saranagati came together to brainstorm how they could improve sustainability on their off grid community. Using their knowledge of science, the students came up with a design for a self-heated greenhouse.
One of the biggest challenges of farming at Saranagati is their short growing season. With a self-heated greenhouse, they intend to grow food year-round.
Using money from a previous grant award, the materials were purchased and the students and their community teamed up to bring the design to reality.
Jai Fournier was the main builder and many other members of the community volunteered their time and energy to help. The students themselves participated in holding and carrying wood, hammering, and gardening. So far they have had success with growing lettuce, kale, spinach, sunflowers, and beets in the new greenhouse.
The children lend a helping hand by watering the new garden beds
The greenhouse is built to create its own heat, as well as trap solar heat; without using any electric power. The students coiled black water pipes in a compost pile and connected those to a series of pipes lined in the wall of the greenhouse. As the water travels through the pipes, it is heated by the compost pile, which naturally generates heat as the compost materials decompose. The hot water rises as the cold water falls, so the water circulates without a pump. The water in the pipes generate heat, and the ceiling made of glass traps the heat of the sun. The ceiling was also built on a south-facing slope, to avoid snow from piling on top of the greenhouse and to catch the most sunlight year-round.
This winter was a test run for the greenhouse; it was an abnormally cold winter with temperatures dropping to -20℃ / -4℉. The greenhouse was unable to create enough heat to keep the plants alive in these conditions. However, the students are confident that in an average winter, the heat generated by the greenhouse would be sufficient to extend the growing season by at least three months.
To watch the video entry about the making of the greenhouse you can follow this link: https://www.bcgreengames.ca/project/les-femmes-de-stem1673
Govardhana Academy students stand proudly in their new greenhouse.
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