This summer, Cider Mill added almost 1500 square feet of space to grow vegetables and teach students about organic gardening. Middlebrook added 650 square feet under its new greenhouse to do the same thing. Both schools worked with Green Up, LLC, a Stamford firm, to design and construct their additions to science and food programs.
The Middlebrook project has been over 2 years in the making. Heather Priest, Middlebrook’s Food Science teacher, has been growing vegetables and herbs in her classroom and the courtyard at the school. She identified the year-round value of having a greenhouse big enough for 30+ kids to experience growing food during the school year and sought to make that happen.
The Cider Mill Parent Teachers Association also appreciates organic gardening and getting their 3rd, 4th and 5th graders started early with growing food. They envisioned an enclosed garden with wide walkways and multiple growing beds to get students involved in all aspects of growing and harvesting vegetables.
Both schools reached out to local providers but selected Green Up, LLC to build their dream projects. Green Up is owned by Bob Coogan and his son Colin. Bob is a Wilton resident. Bob’s son Colin has lived in Norwalk and currently resides in New Canaan. The project manager on these 2 project is Phil Steinberg, a 33-year resident of Wilton. Both Bob and Phil are 35 year corporate guys who retired and now do organic growing, living walls, moss designs, garden beds, greenhouses and other related projects – mostly under the direction of Colin who has turned his passion for growing into a business to support his family of 4 kids currently under the age of 12.
Other fun facts are that the stone work to support the greenhouse at Middlebrook and the gravel for both projects was done by John Trofa – a 35 year resident of Wilton. John and AnnaMaria Trofa’s 3 sons went through all Wilton schools. As did Phil and Sharon Steinberg’s son and daughter. And Bob Coogan oldest daughter is Bernadette Hess – a teacher, administrator and acting principal in Wilton schools. The wood for Cider Mill’s project came from Board Silly, a saw mill just north of Wilton on Route 7 in Ridgefield. Not only was Green Up the best vendor for the project – but they have local roots that made the project personal. Wilton schools got great products, built by local people, using locally source supplies, at a great price.