PVS Green Towers

This week a handful of our kindergarten-grade 4 students were invited to help plant the green towers at the front of our school. Parkland Village is lucky to have two green towers this year!

After our amazing custodian, Tara Parrott, brought in a collection of seeds for us to use it was decided that one tower would hold our edibles and the other would grow flowers.

Today we got to work, students chose from our wonderful seed collection and started filling the tower.Stayed tuned for updates on how we use our harvest and all of our growing adventures at PVS!

Graminia in the News!

Grade 4 students take care of the aquaponic system at Graminia School, but it is being tied into the curriculum for all grades. - Photo by Marcia Love

http://www.sprucegroveexaminer.com/2017/01/26/students-benefit-from-hands-on-environmental-learning

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.

Tower garden

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.

Aquaponic system

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.

Hands-on learning

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.

mlove@postmedia.com

Twitter: @MarciaTheLovely 

TD Friends of the Environment and PSD

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.

For more information contact:
Felicia Ochs
Wellness Coordinator
Learning Services
Phone: 780-963-8465
Email: fmochs@psd70.ab.ca

Going Green

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Today a few staff and community members were lucky enough to spend some time together at camp YoWoChas on Wabamun lake. We spent the day discussing how we can move forward as a division and work towards improving environmental education. IMG_6527

We went on a lovely nature walk which was an amazing way to interact with nature. We were also lucky enough to have an incredibly skilled and knowledgeable guide who made the walk that much more educational.IMG_6526

We look forward to sharing our statement with everyone soon.