Insight from Educators
Recently, I followed up with educators all over Wyoming using ZipGrow towers for classroom gardening.
During this time, I was able to gather a little insight into how schools are using their produce grown in the ZipGrow towers.
In today’s post, we will share some ideas for how you can use hydroponic produce in your school, and some examples of how schools are using their harvested produce currently. If you’ve been wondering what to do with all that delightful produce from your system, this post is for you!
Tip: Before you serve any type of harvested produce, make sure that no one has any allergies to the produce you are serving. Take the necessary precautions if allergies are indeed present.
In the Classroom
There are many ways to use harvested produce in the classroom.
#1. Snack time is a good way to use your produce because depending on the plant, your tower should produce enough for each student to have at least one sample with their snack. For example, a good nutritious snack might be a few cheese cubes and a strawberry or two. Or a few pieces of celery and a couple cherry tomatoes. There’s no better way to get students excited about plant growth than letting them taste the results!
#2. Another way to use produce in the classroom is in conjunction with a health and nutrition unit. Park Elementary School in Casper, WY is using their Spring System produce to teach students about where food comes from and how the body uses it in their Health and the Human Body Common Core unit.
#3. Plant dissection is yet another classroom option. Dissecting live plants is a great way to provide students with a hands on learning experience about the parts of a plant, seeds, the differences between different fruits and veggies, etc. This is one time when it’s actually okay to play with your food!
In the Lunchroom
For schools with slightly larger vertical gardening systems, the produce can be used in the lunchroom.
Here are two examples of how school are using their produce in the lunchroom currently:
#5. Saratoga Elementary School in Saratoga, WY grows veggies and herbs for pizza toppings.
Produce can be used on small scale in lunchrooms, but it can also be used on a large scale.
As local food initiatives become more popular, schools are receiving more and more funding for local food. One of the ways to use this funding is to create your own cafeteria garden or farm.
Can you imagine being able to grow, harvest and prepare nutritious produce for your school’s cafeteria all in the same room? It’s possible with ZipGrow towers! One easy way to do this is to use a green wall in the school’s kitchen.
A great example of something similar to this is what Jay Super is doing at his his high school hallway in Maize, KS. It can’t get any more fresh than that!
Another fun way to use produce is for special events.
#6. Thayne Elementary School in Thayne, WY recently held a Family Science Night which featured their Spring System and its produce.
#7. You could also host a class picnic. Have students help harvest the produce, pack it, and then find a nice sunny location to sit down and share a meal together that includes the harvested produce. The produce can be eaten raw, or even made to be the star of the picnic!
If you are feeling particular crafty, you could take the harvested strawberries home, make some jelly, and bring that for sandwiches. Or your class could use your veggies to create mason jar salads (an easy portable salad that we are a big fan of here at Bright Agrotech).
#8. One more fantastic option is to start up a mini Classroom CSA. Let parents, teachers, or community members sign up for shares of produce harvested from your ZipGrow tower(s). This is also a fantastic way to fund-raise. Amy covers this idea more in her post, “The New Lemonade Stand”
The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to using fresh produce in schools. We all know how hard it can be to get young people excited about eating their fruits and veggies, but many teachers are finding that growing hydroponic produce live is a great way to overcome this challenge with their students. Not only that, but it also decreases food costs while improving freshness, nutrition and taste. It can even help your school save or raise money!
There is so much to be gained by growing produce in the classroom, get your Classroom Kit today!
Let us know how your school is using their ZipGrow-grown produce by commenting below for a chance to be featured on our website!