A grant for a garden yields more than just veggies.
By Wendy Rose Gould
When the Hudson Kiwanis Club in Ohio reached out to Hudson High School to see how the two could collaborate, one of the last things the Kiwanians expected to hear was, “Assist us in the build of a hydroponic garden.” In fact, many club members weren’t even sure what hydroponic gardening involved.
If you’re not sure either, club member Peter Loal explains.
“Hydroponics is a way to skip the soil and substitute a different material to support root growth,” Loal says. “(It) uses fresh, recycled water with a specific pH for the plants they are growing, oxygen and root support through a fiber-like material. Nutrients are delivered through the water mixture, (and plants receive) natural sunlight and supplemental artificial light with LEDs.”
Eager to help the high school bring this new addition to its existing greenhouse, the club helped make the vision a reality with a US$20,000 grant. Now, students learn about growing food sustainably, the science of germination and the role of local and urban agriculture in the food industry.
The garden also provides an opportunity for students to develop a work ethic and social skills in an authentic, hands-on way. The hydroponic garden presents moments of problem-solving, collaboration, scientific inquiry and experimentation. The school also has involved the special needs program.
“The Hudson Kiwanians’ willingness to first hear our district’s proposal to fund a hydroponics lab and then following up with additional inquiries to develop a deep understanding of what we were trying to accomplish says much about [our] long-standing partnership,” says Brian Welch, Hudson High School’s principal. “The new hydroponics lab at the high school is a great example of project-based learning that involves students of all ability levels.”
The students grow foods like lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, and the school intends to sell some of the produce at the local farmers’ market.
“The project has turned out better than expected,” says Loal. “It’s been a rip-roaring success.”
The club and high school have worked together since the club was formed in 1951, and both look forward to future successful collaborations.