by Pete Mazzaccaro
When Howard Brosius started his nonprofit garden educational organization, Chipping Hill Micro Farm, he had to lug a lot of soil-filled pots and other bins filled with fresh vegetables to the preschools where he’d run his free classes.
This month, Brosius debuted a new aid in his mission to educate children: a mobile greenhouse classroom. It’s literally a greenhouse built on a flatbed trailer that he can tow to area preschools with a burly pickup truck.
“It’s wonderful,” he said of the new mobile classroom. “With the mobile unit, I no longer have to carry all my supplies into a school. I’m all set up.”
The mobile classroom has a long picnic table that can seat approximately 20 small children. There’s a shelf of raised-bed garden space in which Brosius grows a multitude of fresh vegetables. There’s a refrigerator and heaters that he can run if he hooks up to electric. The heaters aren’t necessary on a sunny day during which a little sunlight quickly bumps temperatures up in the classroom.
Brosius, a former stockbroker who lives in Glenside, started Chipping Hill Micro Farms in 2013 to help children in underprivileged neighborhoods learn about gardening and vegetables. He focuses on state-funded programs and head start, teaching 4- and 5-year-olds the wonders of growing and eating vegetables. A big part of his classes consists of cutting fresh vegetables up and letting children taste them with a little side serving of Hidden Valley Ranch. Brosius talks about the vegetables and how they’re grown while the children gobble them up.
Brosius said that the mobile classroom cost more than $45,000 to build. He raised most of the money and was given the truck with which to tow it by John Kennedy Ford. One major donor who Brosius called “an angel” is Hallee Adelman. Adelman read about a prior story on Brosius in this paper and donated $5,000 to his nonprofit. For the mobile classroom project, she gave Brosius $11,500.
“Without her support, this wouldn’t have been possible,” Brosius said.
Brosius said his goal in the next year is to continue to expand his program. He currently estimates that he serves about 250 children in the Northwest Philadelphia area every two weeks. All of the children, he said, are in subsidized childcare programs.
He said he is looking to find volunteers to help him read stories about gardening – a task he can’t manage himself while he’s busy prepping and serving vegetables to children. He’s hoping to buy an ELMO document projector to help in that endeavor, an investment of $5,000.
For more info on Chipping Hill Micro Farms, call 813-468-9558. Pete Mazzaccaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-248-8802.