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Growing Wild with Hicks Elementary

By
Melissa Greer,   Thomas O Hicks Elementary Sch
Play:
A Community Taste Test Event
Topics:
Access to Healthy Foods, Success with Funds,  Teamwork
Growing Wild with Hicks Elementary
In the Spring of 2015, with the support and diligence of our Science Discovery teacher, Administration, Erin Schotts and myself, our school adopted 6 Tower Garden® by Juice Plus+® Our goal was to introduce our students and staff to the idea that anyone can grow and cultivate healthy food almost anywhere….even at school! The Tower Garden is a state of the art, vertical Aeroponic system that grows leafy greens and other vegetables in almost any small space. These unique systems use no soil; there is no weeding and no herbicides. The recycling system reduces water usage between 90-95% compared to soil gardens. A low-wattage pump in the basin circulates mineral and nutrient-rich water through a central column, aerating the water and hydrating the plants' roots. The plants use only what they need, and the rest gets recycled. The food is clean, fast growing, abundant, and green thumbs to brown thumbs can confidently grow and know exactly where their food came from. It's the freshest and most local source of produce straight from the backyard, porch, patio, or school! Our Tower Gardens® by Juice Plus+® have been successful, but not without some setbacks. There is a delicate balance when attempting to grow any type of plant. We have had beautiful greens growing one morning and then a few days later, disaster, as they didn’t last long. We have moved the gardens to multiple locations around the school, looking for the “optimal” combination of sunlight, shade, and visibility to students and staff. Currently we are researching ways to improve our crop with either a green house or indoor grow lights. It is our goal to make these Tower Gardens® by Juice Plus+® an integrated part of our schools nutrition. Students will be able to study and monitor the growth of our crops and actually see what they grow being used in lunches prepared by our wonderful Café staff. This investment has made a great impact on creating a healthier school environment by allowing our students to see, smell, touch, and eventually taste the very produce they have selected to grow. Though we have had some minor bumps in the road, we will keep working to make these gardens a permanent, sustainable, part of our school.

How do you plan to make this Play last during the school year and beyond?

We are continuously working to find ways to keep the tower gardens growing produce. We are currently working on a plan for grade levels or classrooms to adopt a tower each to manage next school year. We hope to increase student involvement and responsibility as this project grows.