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Elementary Students Learn to Grown Veggies

Over the past few years, two Frenship elementary schools have received teacher grants from the Frenship Foundation for Leadership for aeroponic vertical gardens. The gardens aid the education of the students through hands-on learning and planting seeds of excitement in the students as they watch the plants grow before their eyes.  

While the second-grade students are the primary growers, students from all grades get to learn and taste test from the gardens. The pods are housed in the libraries of each campus with the media specialists heading the projects.  

Students are involved in every aspect of the gardens. The students develop an understanding of sustainable gardening and plant growth through the aeroponic system of air, water, light, and nutrients.  

“I feel that they learn problem-solving skills and the importance of water conservation and sustainability,” said Bridgett Turner, the North Ridge Elementary Media Specialist.  

“Students and teachers both have had the opportunity for hands-on learning," said Danielle Holt, the Oak Ridge Elementary Media Specialist. “We have worked on math like how much water, seeds, and plant food it needs, problem-solving, and comprehension. We have used all our senses and made many connections this year as we have watched growth and failure."

At North Ridge, the gardens are growing various lettuces such as butter lettuce, lacinato kale, and green curled kale. They also have two herbs, basil and dill, along with some Marigolds to bring in some bright colors. Oak Ridge has several herbs such as mint, cilantro, dill, and parsley as well as a variety of types of lettuce and kale. They are currently experimenting with pollination right now as they attempt to grow cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries.  

Once the plants are ready for harvest the students come together for tasting and collaborative learning. At North Ridge, second graders have had a series of tastings with their harvest including strawberry banana smoothies with lacinato kale, water infused with lime basil, dill dip made with fresh dill, and Caprese salad using fresh basil.  

The first graders and ESL (English as a Second Language) students at Oak Ridge participated in a detective project where they had to taste, touch, smell, see, and feel the lettuce from the gardens. Kindergarten and second graders used their fingers to touch and did a smell test on several of the plants. The gardens also provided salad, infused water, and a couple of dips for lunch for the Oak Ridge teachers one day.  

At both elementary schools, the students have fully embraced the gardens and are constantly stopping by to ask questions.  

“I have kids coming in and asking if I could cut some leaves for them to eat,” said Holt. “One student told me that if the store lettuce tasted like that, they would eat it every day.” 

Holt and Turner are incredibly thankful to the Frenship Foundation for Leadership for providing the teacher grants that allowed them to share aeroponic gardening with their students.  

“I'm thankful the Foundation gives teachers the opportunity to ask for items that they know will enrich students' learning and lives,” said Turner.  

Learn more about the Frenship Foundation for Leadership Teacher Grants HERE.