Student Mobile Greenhouse Project Receives a $10K Grant From Raley’s O-N-E Market

At the start of the 2019/2020 school year, the Earth Warriors Eco Club students decided to start a school-wide project to show some progress in making their school more sustainable. They chose a greenhouse.

Written by Caroline Sandberg

When the Eco Club first thought of the idea of a greenhouse, they were imagining a permanent structure. They proposed the idea to the Program Director, Mara Jenkins, but she explained that this was not attainable, as it did not align with future development plans for the Martis Valley Campus. At their next meeting, the club members brainstormed ideas but still thought of nothing. For one final try, three of the lead club members met at a Starbucks after school to work on a solution. After being close to giving up, they thought of a new idea: a mobile greenhouse built on a trailer. Later that week, they pitched the new concept to Mara and she passed it, excited that they hadn’t given up on the idea of a greenhouse. A couple of days later they pitched it a second time, to the Facilities Manager Brian Collier and he approved it as well! They were finally on their way to a successful project.

Next, the Earth Warriors networked to parents and experts. They posted some messages on the school’s internal communication platform, spoke at two TAP (TEA’s Association of Parents) meetings, showcased the idea at the TEA Film Fest, and joined with CATT (Contractors Association of Tahoe-Truckee) to find local contractors and donations for supplies. This step was a success as well, as they were overloaded with advice, experts, and volunteers.

The students met with a TEA parent and engineer for initial ideas and one of the TEA teachers for advice on how to get more students involved. They traveled to Mountain View Missouri in Reno to gain knowledge from a school who has recently completed a similar project. The TEA 6th graders drew up greenhouse ideas for the club. After looking over these drawings and agreeing on a final design Jackson Simon, a student from the Eco Club, created impressive digital concept designs. Finally, the greenhouse project was entering the final stages until the build, with only one last problem of funding.

Plans for the mobile greenhouse to be built on a trailer

Raley's O-N-E Market aims to support education of organic and nutritious eating and sustainability; exactly what the greenhouse is supposed to promote.

Remarkably, as the students were tackling the issue of funding, TEA parent Holly Racich stepped forward and offered to make an introduction to her associates at Food For Families, Raley’s non-profit organization dedicated to helping to alleviate hunger. The community programs team at Food for Families was intrigued by the proposal and suggested the students apply for a grant. The Earth Warriors wrote up a detailed proposal and sent it into the Raley’s Marketing Team. At the same time, the new Raley’s O-N-E Market was being built next door to the TEA campus. Raley’s O-N-E Market aims to support education of organic and nutritious eating and sustainability; exactly what the greenhouse is supposed to promote. Raley’s awarded the Earth Warriors $10,000 for their project and invited the President of the club, Caroline Sandberg, and the Vice President of the club, Beck Marshall, to the opening day ceremony of Raley’s O-N-E Market to receive a giant check.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic made an unexpected appearance on the greenhouse project and it had to take a pause. Caroline and Beck were still able to attend the Raley’s O-N-E Market opening day to receive the check and the Earth Warriors Team plans to pick back up on the project over the summer.

The Eco Club will re-evaluate their plans for the greenhouse over the summer and find solutions for how to work safely throughout the pandemic. They hope to have the project completed by the end of the 2020/2021 school year, when many of the club members who will be seniors will graduate!