Last week we had our first harvest from our Prescott Tower Gardens. This project is a great opportunity for our Grade 3, 4 and 7 students to blend our Science, Health and Language Arts outcomes in one tasty place.
Can you tell that our focus in writing has been on voice and strong word choices?
VVVVVRRRRRR! Did you know green smoothies taste a lot better than they look?
First we had to harvest the Tower Garden. We hoisted the fresh kale at the top of the structure, then chopped off the spinach, swiss chard and lettuce. Then we put the fresh leafy greens in a plastic bag to take to the SCIENCE LAB OF FOOD!! Third we had to wash the spinach, swiss chard, kale and lettuce so it was clean for the smoothie.
We had to blend the greens together. I felt my finger being squished by the button I had to hold to fuse the kale and lettuce. After it looked like a swamp. The noise was INTENSE! Then we had to blend them together with bold and sweet strawberries with chopped bananas in the BOOMING blender.
It looks gross but tastes awesome. IT’S SCIENCE. Before yesterday I had never tried a green smoothie in my life. I LOVE green smoothies, I could drink one all the time. So now are you interested in having one cuz it’s the bomb.com. It may look like a yucky greeny color. But once you taste it you will LOVE it!
Do you know where in the school we grow the greens? We have two tall Tower Gardens. We are so happy we have them. You can learn a lot from them. They are cool to use. I know why they are called Tower Gardens. They are a tower and they are a garden! Get it?
It’s super difficult to figure out the best way to start a garden. We tried many different ways to grow our plants that are easy to do at home. There we’re many tests and we found the best results came from the methods of using egg shells, toilet paper roles and ice cream cones. These are some extremely good ways to keep your garden healthy and environmentally friendly.
Egg shells were a fantastic and easy way to start a garden. Instead of composting your shells after cracking them for the delicious part, save them and once you have as many as you would like to have in plants you can begin with the rest of the process. We simply added so dirt into each shell and placed in a few seeds of our so desired plant. We made sure that there was enough water for them to grow properly and left them. One day when they get bigger we are able to just plant each shell into the ground. This is a great method because it’s easy and simply plus the egg shells are biodegradable so you can still be Eco friendly.
Another fantastic way to start a garden we found was toilet paper roles. We were able to just save the rolls after the paper was all gone and place some dirt into each. Once we placed dirt into all the roles we then plants the kind of seeds we so desire. Again this is a great method due to the fact that it is biodegradable and stops the roles from just going into a landfill or other places.
Last but most certainly not least for the methods we found worked best is ice cream cones. We discovered that this method was the faster to biodegrade and had some of the best results between the all of the methods. The only difference between the other methods and this one is that you aren’t saving it from being thrown out. Instead all you have to do is go out and buy some mini cones from your local store and other than that it’s the same process. Add dirt and the seeds desired and then plant them into the larger garden. We found that this process for gardening biodegraded the fastest. The cones only took about two weeks to fully desintagrate where as the others are still in the process of biodegrading.
There’s something fishy going on at Graminia School, and it’s having tasty and educational results.
Students and staff at the school shared with Parkland School Division’s (PSD) board of trustees and other guests on Jan. 23 what they are doing to keep Graminia green.
The school has a tower garden and an aquaponic system, where they are able to grow fresh vegetables within the building.
During the visit, TD Bank Friends of the Environment Foundation representatives presented PSD with a cheque for $32,000 as part of its commitment of more than $50,000 over the last two years for the PSD Green and Tower Garden Project at its schools. The trustees also visited Forest Green School in Stony Plain to learn about their environmental learning initiatives.
Graminia School is PSD’s only school with an aquaponics closed ecosystem.
Two Grade 4 students at Graminia explained what they have learned from their school’s tower garden and aquaponic system, as well as the Healthy Active School Symposia they attended earlier in the school year.
A tower garden is a vertical, aeroponic growing system, which allows the growth of up to 20 vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers indoors in less than three square feet.
All of PSD’s schools have at least one tower garden, with several using multiple towers.
At Graminia School, students have grown tomatoes, basil, cucumbers and lettuce in their tower garden. They currently have more plants germinating in rockwool outside the tower garden, including more lettuce, tomatoes, snap peas and peppers.
The students explained what they have learned about each plant’s lifecycle, germination, photosynthesis, and their importance to humans and the environment.
Students harvested the plants they grew and used them to host “salad club,” where they used the lettuce to make salad and enjoy it with different toppings, and “pesto day,” where they used the basil to make pesto sauce for pasta.
Grade 4 teacher Ethan West noted his students were each able to take home a large bag full of mixed greens to enjoy with their family.
An aquaponic system is the combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil) through one integrated system.
The fish waste provides an organic food source for plant growth, and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in.
About 10 Tilapia fish are in a tub of water, and plants are growing in lava rocks in another tub. Students feed the fish, and the nutrients from the fish waste are drawn up through a tube into the tub of lava rocks, where the plants absorb the water and nutrients through their roots.
When the fish are big enough, the students plan to research fish recipes that will also incorporate the other vegetables they are growing.
The students explained that an aquaponic system uses less space, energy and water than traditional farming.
While the school’s Grade 4 classes have been the most heavily involved with the project as part of their plant growth and change unit, each grade level has been able to benefit from the garden tower and aquaponic system by incorporating it into their curriculum — mainly science classes.
Grade 4 teacher Andrew Woloshyn said the projects have provided a hands-on learning environment that has students engaged instead of just reading about it in a book.
“The kids get their hands dirty and see the plants grow from seeds to the point where they get to eat them and understand that process,” he said. “It’s a lot more understanding than just memorizing the process.”
West added several students had the chance to try basil and leafy greens for the first time.
“They may make gagging noises at home when they’re served it, but at school they’re willing to try it,” he said with a smile.
Judy Bennett, a co-ordinator with the Little Green Thumbs program that teaches students about growing their own food, presented the Grade 4 classes with seed potatoes to be grown in their container gardens. These were supplied through a partnership with Earth Apples in Stony Plain, where the seed potatoes were “woken up” from their hibernation for the winter.
“Our experiment is to see if our seed potatoes will grow through the winter under the grow lights,” Bennett explained.
The teachers said the tower garden and aquaponic system are an interesting addition to the school that former students and other visitors are eager to see when they stop by. Overall, the project has been a huge benefit.
“It’s just upping the level of excitement about science,” West said.
In the future, the teachers would like to have a probe to insert into the aquaponic tub to access and display data such as pH levels and nitrate levels in the water. This information could then be used in science and math classes.
anuary 25, 2017 – Sponsored by TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Parkland School Division has 27 aeroponic indoor gardening towers to enhance learning and support nutritious food cultivation throughout the school year. This project is designed for and led by students from Grades K-12.
The Division has also worked with community partners to facilitate Tower Gardens being placed at the TransAlta Tri-Leisure Centre and St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Spruce Grove plus the Westview Health Centre in Stony Plain.
Recently, special guests from TD Canada Trust joined some of Parkland School Division’s Trustees and Senior Executive in a tour of Graminia School and Forest Green School to see donated funds in action and celebrate the latest donation of $32,000 dollars.
Graminia School has also added an aquaponic station to enhance the learning underway in sciences classes across all grades.
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