Here is how the project went:
We added an additional row to our indoor hydroponic grow stand without new light. It created space to grow 6 more lettuce plants that provide a continuous harvest all year long. The student cut the lettuce weekly and take it home (sometimes eating it in the classroom for cooking activities). The wagon allowed us to haul our seedlings from the classroom outside to the garden easily and also provided a way to transport our weeds to the composter. We recently planted our tomatoes in the outside school garden, and they are all staked now with the newly purchased tomato cages. We will be able to begin harvesting over the summer months.
Through this project I/we learned:
Through this project, I learned that maintaining a school garden requires continuous funding to replace materials as they are worn or lost, and adding new sections to our hydroponics system is costly. Many schools and teachers want to know how I do it - but the funding is there, you have to look for it and apply!
What I/we might change:
I would add additional layers to our hydroponic stand. We currently have 6 layers, but we can add more! The extensions are pricey but they allow us to grow fresh organic produce all year long indoors. Students learn about the process from seed to harvest.
My/our favorite part of this project was:
My favorite part of the project was when we grew tomatoes, and they grew so high they touched our classroom ceiling. Students were able to pick tomatoes and eat them right in class.
Some tips, tricks or fun facts about the project:
If you look you will find the funding to keep your projects going. Students will benefit from our hydroponic grow stand for years to come. I have several students with autism who are motivated and calmed by gardening and it's a wonderful extension to learning in our classroom (often used as a reward - pollinating tomatoes by hand or harvesting fresh foods in the classroom).