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story.lead_photo.caption Master Gardeners Roger Elliot, at left, and Joe Holtmeyer put the finishing touches on a greenhouse Dec. 1 at Callaway Hills Elementary School. Photo by Submitted photo

Central Missouri Master Gardeners has built a greenhouse for Callaway Hills Elementary School that will in time help students develop their green thumbs, and provide more vegetables to the school cafeteria and the Samaritan Center.

Master Gardener Yolanda Graham said the school's garden club that her organization teaches started a few years ago, and the school got its first raised garden bed in 2012, before the club's official formation.

The club is for students in third through fifth grades, and is funded by a grant from the Healthy Schools Healthy Community initiative.

Fellow Master Gardener Julie Long wrote in an email that the new greenhouse to be utilized by the club was "made possible by a grant from HyVee, discounted supplies from Lowes and the donation of time and talent by the Master Gardeners 'shed crew.'"

Graham said the shed crew builds sheds for Habitat for Humanity homes. "I can't imagine how many hours they put in," she added.

She said work on the Callaway Hills greenhouse first begun in September at the Master Gardeners Greenhouse across the Missouri River. The structure was then disassembled and transported to the school Nov. 23, where it was finished Dec. 1.

Graham estimated the woodframe shed that sits on a leveled bed of gravel is about 10 feet by 12 feet, and shaped like the top half of a barn, with corrugated, translucent plastic for the walls and ceiling instead of glass, and with some galvanized aluminum siding that lines the exterior base of the stucture's walls.

The plans for the structure came from the Pinterest social media site. She added Lowes gave a discount on the supplies the Master Gardeners needed, and Jefferson City Public Schools provided the gravel.

The greenhouse is anchored into the gravel, and Graham assured she found the structure still standing after recent storms that caused wind damage elsewhere in the Jefferson City area.

She said planting will take place in the spring, probably in March. Callaway Hills students will plant tomatoes in a propogation shelf inside the school building, which will then be moved to the greenhouse — at least 75 plants all together, she said.

The school has six raised garden beds already. The spring tomato harvest is sold at the school's spring carnival as a fundraiser. Summer harvests are usually frozen in the school's cafeteria, and used throughout the year. The fall harvest provides students with fresh vegetables like zucchini, peppers, sweet potatoes and lettuce, in addition to tomatoes.

"I'd say about 90 percent of it goes back to the school cafeteria," Graham said, but she added some of the summer harvest is also donated to the Samaritan Center.

"I can't express how thankful we are to those people," she said of the shed crew that built the greenhouse. The group numbered about eight or nine, with six core members.

The garden club usually has about 30 students who meet after school, she added.

She said Callaway Hills' Principal Todd Shalz is looking into whether the Master Gardeners' garden club at the school can be used as part of the new Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson City's afterschool program there too.

As previously reported, that new program funded by a five-year, $1.5 million state education department-administered federal grant will provide students with homework and tutoring time; curriculum in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathetmatics; and free transportation for those who need it.

Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Stephanie Johnson added students will also be provided with a meal akin to a school lunch — the same meal as what students at the club's main facility are served.

Connie McGowan, the site program coordinator for the school, said the new afterschool program will start Jan. 3 — the first day of school in the new calendar year.

"The need is there, but the services weren't," Johnson said, adding the program will serve 100 students.

The program will operate Monday through Friday at Callaway Hills, at no cost for students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

Callaway Hills is one of the four Jefferson City Public Schools' elementary buildings where all students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Shalz said the afterschool program will utilize the school's gym, cafeteria, collaboratory space, library and playground.

Enrollment applications are available at the Boys & Girls Club's website, bgcjc.com.

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