Amid apple blossoms, edible planters, bee houses and budding peonies, the students of Claude E. Garton Public School celebrated the success of the first harvest from the school’s indoor Garden Wall (or vertical hydroponic garden) on Tuesday, June 26.
“It’s very rewarding that we can host an edible celebration,” says Mme Arnone, Claude E. Garton Public School Teacher and Head of Gardening Club. “We have created an outdoor vegetable garden but the season is so short and the external factors, such as weather, are totally beyond our control. Having the indoor Garden Wall means that students will be able to control the environment to some extent and learn about the factors that impact plant growth in a more scientific and, likely, more productive situation.”
The Garden Wall was first developed by a parent, Catherine Leonard, in response to interest in fostering sustainable food production education. With a grant from the Metro Green Apple School Program, Whole Kids Foundation, and Tbaytel for Good Schools last school year, the school purchased two permanent vertical hydroponic systems for the Science lab.
The area was upgraded with growing lights to make the system more productive. While the first harvest used only half of the system, it still produced enough yield to feed the classes involved in the seeding and planting with a delicious salad.
“We have learned a great deal from this first harvest and it encourages us to believe that this project is incredibly versatile for learning as well as offering tangible results that the kids can taste,” says Arnone. “Additionally, the learning involved in this project connects numerous aspects of the curriculum, specifically Science and Technology, Mathematics and Social Studies.”
Many classes were involved with this first harvest. The SK/Grade 1 class were in charge of seeding and caring for the sprouts while the Grade 3/4 Science class were responsible for planting the seedlings in the towers that make up the growing space of the system. The Grade 5 EFI class developed teams who managed the preparation and execution of the celebration.
The goal of the Garden Wall is to engage all classes in the procedure and practice of indoor farming. Given the short growing season, this opportunity will encourage more families to explore indoor growing systems in the future. The system continues to be integrated in the Science curriculum at Claude E. Garton and in the future, more classes will participate.