Hydroponics Take Root in Learning Commons

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Kyrell Luc ’21 and Jarrel Okorougo ’22 check out the hydroponic gardening system. Photo by David Cutler.

Recently, four futuristic towers have popped up in the Learning Commons, raising questions about their purpose.

Wonder no more. The soilless hydroponic gardening system will grow herbs and greens, including kale, chard, arugula, most of which will be served for the community during lunch.

“We can use them in our daily salads, seasoning, and it’s a more sustainable way of getting produce,” said Sous Chef Craig Roman.

The 7th grade planted the seedlings about two weeks ago, allowing them to germinate for two weeks before they can be placed into the towers, which is schedule to occur Monday. 

According to Juice Plus, the manufacturer, the towers “grow 30% healthier food, three times faster,” and with 10 percent of the space and resources of traditional gardening needed.

The seeds are placed into rockwool cubes along the sides of the tower, and are fed from a nutrient solution combined with water, cycling every 15-minutes on the hour. The towers also provide the plants with artificial sunlight. 

This project, spearheaded by Head Librarian Megan Dolan and Middle School Science teacher Bethany Shannon, and funded through a faculty innovation grant, say that students will be surprised at the “freshness and deliciousness of the produce” that the system will produce. 

According to Shannon, as the sprouts have been emerging this week, students can’t help but check their plants as soon as they enter her classroom.

“The hydroponic gardens naturally show students how science directly relates to their everyday lives, to our local community with the produce that will be delivered to the cafeteria, and even our global community as we consider questions—such as how these technologies and science may affect food production challenges as the world population grows,” Shannon said.

Joseph Bahaddy ’21 was excited by the towers, saying, “When I first came into school this year, I immediately wondered what they were, I think that they add a new design to the library and it looks unique and gives the library a new spark.”

Megan Stander ’20 was more concerned, stating, “I did notice the Tower Gardens, I wasn’t entirely sure what they were. I think it’s a really great idea to have more greenery in the library, my only concern is that people might wreck them or they might get in the way.”

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