A $352,500 grant, given by an anonymous donor, will provide funds to update the greenhouse and gardens at Defer Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Park.

A $352,500 grant, given by an anonymous donor, will provide funds to update the greenhouse and gardens at Defer Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Park.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Foundation announces grant for Defer Elementary School greenhouse project

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published August 11, 2020


GROSSE POINTE PARK — The greenhouse and gardens at Defer Elementary School will receive an upgrade due to the generosity of an anonymous donor.

Late last month, the Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education announced a major grant of $352,500 that will be used to improve the school’s gardens and to replace the greenhouse.

At the July 27 virtual Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education meeting, the board voted 7-0 to approve the grant.

“Thank you to the people who generously gave to the greenhouse,” Treasurer Judy Gafa said.

“Thank you, as well, to the foundation,” board President Margaret Weertz said. “We appreciate your generosity and your hard work.”

According to a Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education press release, the funds for the project were provided anonymously, directed specifically for the Defer greenhouse project, and the grant request was submitted by the district. Other partners working to facilitate the project include Healthy Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods, the Grosse Pointe Garden Center, and the Defer Elementary staff and Parent Teacher Organization.

“Upon completion, the program could be replicated at schools throughout the district,” according to the press release.

The greenhouse project is designed to enhance classroom instruction by providing students with hands-on, year-round access to live plants.

“The Defer Elementary garden and greenhouse project fits perfectly within our mission of supporting exceptional learning opportunities for our students, and we are pleased to be able to play an important supportive role in bringing it to fruition,” foundation President Robert Bury stated in the press release. “From our bi-annual grants to signature programs such as Leader in Me, the GPFPE has a legacy of supporting initiatives that have an enduring impact on our students and the school system.”

The project will be completed in four phases.

Phase one will focus on updating the current gardens at the school, including the addition of a butterfly garden, native plants, plant labels and educational signage.

Depending on whether students return to face-to-face learning this fall, phase two will include curriculum additions in the classroom using the Tower Garden program. Tower Garden brings green plants into the classroom so that students can observe their daily growth and more actively participate in their care.

Phase two, if the students return with in-person learning, also will offer a lunchtime enrichment in partnership with the Grosse Pointe Garden Center. Phase three work will include the replacement of the on-site greenhouse.

Implementation of an outdoor classroom garden with native plants and vegetables in partnership with Healthy Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods is planned for phase four.

The Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education raises money to fund projects not available in the school district’s general fund. Grant applications may be submitted by teachers, administrators, students, parents or community members.

Since 2007, the foundation has provided over $3.2 million in grants to support a variety of programs and projects at every school and every grade level throughout the district.

For more information or to make a gift to the foundation, contact Karen Lawrence at lawrenk@gpschools.org or (313) 432-3058.