Our goal is to collaborate with the Roots & Shoots Chapter at Pizzo Elementary School to revitalize their neglected hydroponic garden. We aim to introduce students to sustainable food practices and give them the opportunity to try their hand at growing their own food. Of particular importance is that students learn to make connections between the vegetables and herbs they grow in the garden and the food they see in the grocery store. Moreover, the use of the hydroponic system will teach students about the benefits of sustainable gardening techniques (e.g. land and water conservation) and enhance the students' presently limited interaction with nature and gardening.
Our initial step is to acquire vertical planters, plant growth medium, water testing equipment, and plant nutrient solutions. These materials will constructed within the already-existing structure of the hydroponic system at Pizzo Elementary. University students have already begun and will continue a series of educational lessons and activities in the 1st grade class, to explain the importance of sustainable gardening and to give the students a sense of ownership of their project.
In Spring 2015, herbs and spices will be planted as seeds in the classroom and monitored by the students. Once mature, the seedling will be transplanted to the vertical planters and the students will care for them in their hydroponic garden. In Fall 2015, larger vegetables will be planted in the same way and will thus be added to the burgeoning garden. Hands-on educational activities both in the classroom and in the garden will continue once the garden has been established.