As the school year kicks off and students and parents trickle in our front door, we have made our commitment to sustainability and health / wellness very evident. We installed a 5 foot tall Hydroponic Garden from shardy.towergarden.com . This garden will yield vegetables and fruit year-round. The placement of the garden, right inside the front door of the office, has been a conversation piece for parents, students, and teachers alike. It is great to hear the parents in the front office talking about how incredible it is that we are so committed to teaching our students about sustainability and proper nutrition. The pause or pushback that I hear often when it comes to sustainability in schools is that either the weather is non-cooperative or that there is not enough space for gardening. By using a TowerGarden we have nullified those concerns / roadblocks. The cost for the entire kit was only about $1000 and upkeep is minimal. For us, this is about our purpose, to educate our children to be able to problem solve and care for themselves in the future, not only are they going to learn about sustainable gardening, there is a treasure-trove of science labs and learning about plants and nutrition that are tied into the TowerGarden. Through this medium, we are able to integrate science, math, and technology, all tied to our standards.
The addition of this garden is going to add a lot to our school; however, we have not stopped there. Through a partnership with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Ameri-Corps, and donations from Scots Miracle-Gro we are continuing with our traditional garden as well. We have 22 seedbeds in our garden and yeilded literally hundreds of pounds of melons, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, tomatoes, corn, and sweet potatoes for our community.
Again, this cost us next to nothing, other than reaching out to our local community and a willingness to do the work. Our students tend to the garden, weeding and picking crops. Our students from Kindergarten through 8th grade work in the garden in one capacity or another, which means that our kinder students will have 9 years of gardening experience by the time that they leave our school! Again, we use our garden as an extension of the classroom and are able to teach about plants, agriculture, math, science labs, not to mention the benefit of our students getting outdoors and being active.
What are some of the roadblocks that you have experienced when it comes to creating gardens in your school? What would it mean to your school and community to have this resource available?