The windowsill in Harlie’s bedroom was her own miniature greenhouse: full of cups with planted seeds for pumpkins, watermelon, vegetables and herbs. Harlie Taylor Barickman was a 3rd grader at Rye Elementary School and she loved everything outdoors — from digging in the dirt, to holding earthworms and ladybugs. Her dad even nicknamed her “Bug.”
Harlie’s Greenhouse is a Labor of Love. Harlie’s Greenhouse at Rye Elementary School provides a hands on, living classroom where students can explore and discover lessons in science, health and agriculture, gain experience with growing plants, flowers, fruit and vegetables — all while learning about the beauty of life. In collaboration with the school, volunteers and local organizations, Harlie’s Greenhouse will also engage the community to be a perpetual, self-sustaining center for learning and sharing, truly celebrating the life of this little girl.
In May of 2013, Harlie’s Greenhouse became a reality. Our original goal of $70,000 for Phase I was reached and surpassed. Harlie’s Greenhouse is a state of the art, climate-controlled, ADA-accessible greenhouse which accommodates up to 25 students and teachers. The 800 square foot greenhouse has multiple vegetable/flower beds, a hydroponic table, and a potting/transplant work station where students are able to germinate seeds, propagate plants, and care for the variety of plants in the greenhouse. Students are currently growing squash, kale, bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, onions, as well as a variety of herbs. Students have planted groundcover and other perennials outside the greenhouse in order to prevent soil erosion around the greenhouse. The greenhouse is located on an acre of open space which has been completely fenced in and provides students a safe area to garden. “Friends of Harlie” have raised just over $100,000 of which $62,000 was used to purchase and construct a Nexus Greenhouse with a weather station. The additional funds were used to begin Phase II, which included running water, electricity, and natural gas to the greenhouse. A paver stone floor, ten redwood raised garden beds, and a permanent brick garden bed were also added. All garden beds inside the greenhouse have an automatic drip system. Last spring, nine fruit trees were planted outside each having their own automatic drip system. Students will soon be able to enjoy cherries, plums, apricots, and apples.
“Friends of Harlie” are currently fundraising to build sixteen additional outdoor, raised garden beds with an automatic drip system and a cold frame, ten rock gardens, and a composting/storage area. A 60 foot long, U-shaped, cinderblock bay will be constructed in the southwest corner of the grow space. The divided bays will be for active composting and storing dirt, sand, and gravel. Leaves and other organic matter from the community will also be accepted. Harlie’s Greenhouse has collaborated with Colorado State University of Pueblo to offer educational classes to teachers and community members, thus providing an opportunity to learn tips and techniques for successful gardening.