Geary Elementary School, Geary NB
2018-2019 (Grant Year 1)
This spring the Grade 2 students at Geary Elementary Community School took on a new and exciting challenge to produce our own greens using the grow tower. Our goal was to produce vegetables to be used not only for our own class to experiment tasting, but also to share with the school as a part of our cafeteria’s bi-weekly salad bars.
We set-up a Tower Garden and, after a few days of research and trial and error, we had a beautiful glowing, flowing tower in our school’s cafeteria. We decided to use herbs and vegetables which we could easily grow, and also use in our school-wide hot lunch program. With our basil, lettuce, chives, cress, peppermint, spearmint and arugula seeds started, we decided to try growing some quick return crops.
Our next adventure involved growing sprouts in mason jars in our classroom. We tested several types of seeds to find out which we preferred, but also which would be the most productive and give us the best yields. We tried everything from radish to sunflower, and in the end we decided upon a mixture of radish, clover, alfalfa, and broccoli as one option, and lentils as a second.
Throughout both experiences, the level of interest of the students was amazing. Each morning the students rinsed and monitored their sprouts, and stopped by the tower garden daily to observe the growth of their seeds.
In just a week we were ready to taste test our sprouts. They were an instant hit! Every student in the class tried the sprouts, and sprouts became a desired snack when left out for the students to grab handfuls as they worked. The Tower Garden was a test of patience for several weeks, but once the seedlings reached maturity our students were ready to eat. We harvested several crops of lettuce, experimented with cress and basil, and at the time of writing this, our young mint plants are giving off a beautiful aroma and the chives are almost ready to go outside.
We have provided the cafeteria salad bar with lettuce for the Taco Day, basil leaves for the pasta dishes, and sprouts for the salad bar. The benefits are plenty, as student engagement is high, and the students are willingly trying greens they may not have otherwise tried, or had the opportunity to try before!
The Tower Garden has also impacted students in other ways outside of simple nourishment and excitement. Like all schools, our school has students with various backgrounds and experiences. Since the Tower Garden was added to our cafeteria one student in particular has taken a particular interest in our project. Over the past months this student has used his much valued break time to come and help test and fill the water in the Tower, as well as check the plants and observe their growth. He has become our Tower Garden expert, and takes great pride in his role. This success alone makes the whole experience worth every minute of effort that has gone into the experience.