Sowing the seeds for success
More than 100 years ago, the Northern Rivers campus on Academy Road in Albany was farmland. As buildings went up and more youth made this place their home, much of the food they ate was grown right here. Working the land helped thousands of youth develop a connection with the earth and build skills to last lifetimes.
That tradition continues today with the Bella Greenhouse and Educational Center. Created in 2002 thanks to a lead gift from the Luzzi Family and a grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region, Inc., and sustained by a 2018 gift from the estate of Sandra Ferri, and with additional support from the Capital Region Workforce Investment Board, Bella (an acronym for Botanical Expressions of Linda Luzzi Affection) Greenhouse is an integrated program of our Neil Hellman School. Bella Greenhouse offers horticultural lessons and workshops to classes, providing real-world, hands-on connections to classroom concepts, as well as vocational training for interested youth focused on developing job skills.
Under the leadership of a greenhouse coordinator, youth are involved in a variety of work:
Youth focus on multiple study areas in horticulture, agriculture, and environmental stewardship, all of which illustrate the student’s part in the earth ecosystem. The greenhouse also provides a place for respite in its sanctuary with its pond with fish trained to eat from student’s hands, sensory plants (smell, touch, and taste), music. and wind chimes.
A school community garden, cultivating vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Food will be shared with the school community, and the greenhouse will oversee flower beds throughout the Northern Rivers Albany campus. Using the principles of biodynamic gardening and farming, students will work through a program designed to teach soil studies that feed the soil first, so that plants produce food, herbs, and flowers within the ecosystem of the soils. The produce from these programs are used in Northern Rivers' daily food services offerings; the herbal classees teach students the power of herbs in wellness, and floral design, where students take part in the joyful sharing of their own designs with staff on the Albany campus
Compost and vermiculture, helping youth to eliminate food waste, understand the importance of recycling, and learn more about our ecosystem.
Click here to meet our Greenhouse Coordinator, Suzanne Maloney
Suzanne Maloney is responsible for the daily operations of the Bella Greenhouse & Education Center where she has been developing and implementing vocational training programs for students in the fields of greenhouse operations, raising and harvesting crops in raised beds for use in the food services offerings at the Neil Hellman School. She is also initiating the floral design program using flowers, greenery, and herbs raised and harvested on the campus by students. She has a background in nonprofit management, agriculture, and environmental policy. Suzanne is a graduate of the College of Saint Rose, SUNY Cobleskill, and Delaware University with a certificate in Environmental Nonprofit Management. Her interests for the future of the program is in the area of horticulture therapy and biodynamic farming.
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There’s always something new coming up at the Bella Greenhouse and Educational Center. Here’s what’s been growing on lately:
March 1, 2022
It's been a busy season at the greenhouse, with a host of new activities and a whole lot of excitement around some great new programs. Whether it's growing herbs for the kitchen staff at the Neil Hellman School to use in preparing school lunches, training fish in the pond, or getting ready for Valentine's Day, there's always something going on.