PRESS RELEASE: William J. Dean Technical High School Partners with EvanLEE Organics to Grow Organic Greens and Produce

PRESS RELEASE: William J. Dean Technical High School Partners with EvanLEE Organics to Grow Organic Greens and Produce


April 9, 2018


Holyoke, MassachusettsWilliam J. Dean Technical High School (Dean) is the first career and technical education (CTE) school in New England to feature the EvanLee Grow Racks, a patented Super Grow System where organic vegetables are grown in primitive soil, indoors.  Using experiential and project-based learning, students in the culinary program are immersed in a school day that encourages and rewards a proactive educational culture.


“Using Super Grow Racks, students grow the most nutrient-dense organic produce with their own two hands, year round, which helps them to develop new skills as well as personal growth,” stated Todd Bard, owner of EvanLEE Organics.


Dean’s Culinary Arts instructor, Chef Steve Kantrowitz, and Pastry/Baking instructor, Chef Deb Ashe, work with students in all aspects of the growing process – seeding and watering, thinning new sprouts, and harvesting.  The first harvest featured micro greens, kale, deer tongue, green leaf, red leaf, sage, citrus basil, and parsley.  The racks each provide three harvests of leafy greens before composting of the soil.  The compost rejuvenates into soil in 30-45 days and is then reused.


“Students have also developed recipes featuring the produce (such as herb buttermilk biscuits, and a basil, walnut pesto),” stated Kantrowitz.  “These were offered along with the greens at a catered luncheon on premises.   Culinary students are also learning how to run a business through production, marketing, advertising, and sales, as they sell their greens and products to faculty through the Culinary Arts cafe.  This project not only demonstrates trade skills, it also demonstrates environment sustainability and health concepts as it is part of the green revolution.”


“It has been a great opportunity putting these racks together with my peers, having the responsibility of watering them, and being able to watch them grow over the course of several weeks,” stated Jennilee Espada, tenth-grade Culinary Arts student.  “It is a great feeling to know we grew these beautiful fresh herbs that we can use right in our shop.  I would definitely like to continue growing, and even expand our grow racks into a ‘garden’ over time with a variety of other crops.”


Mass Life Sciences has awarded a $30,000 grant to support the purchase of additional growing racks for School Year 2018-19.  To encourage community and continued local business support, the school’s short-term goals for this initiative include expanding the variety of items offered through the Culinary Arts Department, and becoming involved with the Holyoke Farmers Market at City Hall. Long-term goals include initiating a winter farmers market at Dean, featuring the produce with those of local purveyors, and possibly a Community Supported Agriculture program.


When students have access to adults and professionals in the field, student learning becomes relevant, authentic, and deep. The high school experience has been redesigned in Holyoke and four linked learning academies are set to launch in the 2018-19 school year – Community and Global Studies Academy, Technology, Engineering, and Design Academy, Performing and Media Arts Academy. Medical, Biological and Human Sciences Academy.  Culinary will be part of the Medical and Life Sciences Academy.  Each academy will have a variety of industry partners to support igniting student interest and acquiring critical 21st Century skills. Work-based learning opportunities, including guest speakers, job shadowing, and internships will be available to all high school students attending the Holyoke Public Schools.


More About Evan Lee Organics


A few months ago Kelly Passerini, Business Development Director at EvanLEE Organics reached out to Dean Principal, Jeff Peterson to discuss the patented technology.  EvanLEE Organics, the New England Distributor for 2445 Organics, offered to install two of their patented Super Grow System where organic vegetables are grown in primitive soil, indoors.


EvanLee Organics was named after Evan Bard, Todd and Barbara’s oldest daughter who was killed in a drunk driving crash in 2013.  Evan Bard was a junior nursing student at Curry College. Profits from EvanLEE Organics fund Evan’s EvvGirl Foundation.  The mission of EvvGirl is to help NICU Hospitals, pediatrics, nursing and more to further Evan’s love and passion when she was here with us.  Evan’s family has started the SEIZE THE KEYS Drunk Driving Educational Program to provide education on the danger of excessive drinking, drug use, and impaired driving. Sheriff Lew Evangelidis has been very helpful in creating components of this program with the Bards.


Judy Taylor, Communications Director, (413) 493-1605,

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