Grantee Blog 2020

Successful Gardens are Bright Spot in 2020 for School

The students and teachers of Alexander Batcho Intermediate School (ABIS) are continuing to care for their AeroGardens with great success. With all the unpredictability of 2020, these gardens and the education they are receiving on a weekly basis from Rutgers Cooperative Extension have been a great source of structure and success. Since September, ABIS’s two special education classrooms have been growing lettuce greens, tomatoes and herbs in their indoor gardens. Despite earlier setbacks due to COVID-19, this program has taken off and been embraced by all involved.

ABIS Principal Michael Magliacano has been a supporter of this program since its inception and seen first-hand the positive benefits this initiative is having on his students and school. “Aside from the educational value of the garden project, the aesthetic value within the classrooms are immeasurable. One of the first sights as you enter both classrooms are the blossoming greens that are coming from the AeroGardens. Students have taken great pride with the upkeep, water and anticipation of harvesting some of the pods. The project is so successful that we would like to continue the gardens with new crops as the current ones expire or that we decide to try to replant them to grow bigger. It has been an enjoyable experience from all sides.”

The overwhelming success of the first round of these gardens has launched the conversation of continuation and sustainability. Key stakeholders from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset and Rutgers Cooperative Extension have been working with the administration and teachers at ABIS to discuss the best options for long-term success. The administration at ABIS is fully onboard and has already pledged to absorb the cost of the AeroGarden pods once the grant concludes. Additionally, there have been discussions around the school’s wellness committee and potentially expanding to an outdoor garden in 2021 if it is safe for the students. These gardens are the catalysts for exciting new opportunities to improve health in Manville.


About the Grantee

Somerset Health Care Foundation

Healthier Somerset is a coalition created to improve the health and well-being of those who live and work in Somerset County. We promote healthy lifestyles through collaboration among 50 partner organizations representing thousands of Somerset County residents, businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations, public health officials, healthcare providers, government, and faith-based organizations.