Pine Valley has partnered with the Chautauqua County Health Network (CCHN) to implement a vertical and sustainable aeroponic tower growing system in our elementary library. Our Pine Valley students are learning how to grow their own food. Every grade level participates in some aspect with the production and growing of vegetables and herbs. Students plant their own chosen seeds in a pod, watch for germination, observe mature plants produce flowers, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. The students then check the reservoir weekly to measure and adjust the pH. Students even use mathematical equations to adjust and measure the pH. They also use a cylinder to show precision when measuring Mineral Blends’ A and B.
This is where the STEM/STEAM acronym is incorporated into this new learning. The S stands for Science, T stands for Technology, E stands for Engineering, A stands for the Arts, and M stands for Mathematics. There is math and science involved as students collect data on the growth of their plants. Journal writing is performed as students write a detailed description of the color, growth, similarities and differences of their vegetables/herbs. Students reflect on their new gardening experiences through journal writing and hands-on activities. The Pine Valley students claim ownership and accountability over the Pine Valley Elementary Library Tower Garden.
1/15/2020 WOW! Students were pleased with how much the garden grew over our winter break. However, after careful review of similar time frames last year and a few pods without growth students suggested a hypothesis and proposed moving the garden away from the windows, deeper in the library to its previous location at the hall end of our circulation center. They discussed possibilities of too much handling, and a window draft hindering growth. Heat in the library during break might be turned down as well, so the garden will be moved for future breaks to office spaces that will be occupied more. Careful observations and great student-led conversation led to change! Water and nutrient solutions were added, and after careful observation, some old roots from last year that were missed before were removed.
A new photo gallery for the 2019-2020 school year was recently added. Check it out, you might even see our cucumber "volunteers." Any plant that is not a weed, that the gardener didn’t intentionally put in, is known by the term volunteer. In most cases gardeners consider these plants more than welcome, though they may need to be relocated or even shared. Some of gardening classes will be discussing these volunteers and what they choose to do with them. Relocating, especially within the tower, and during our winter, is difficult. Students may choose to try and remove a plant, or see if one pod can support both a tomato, trained upright and a cucumber vine. The cucumbers have also flowered this week. So depending on their decision, they may have to pollinate as well.
The students are learning how to grow their own food inside year round. This is one of the new additions to our gardens on school grounds.We are growing tomatoes, cucumbers, a variety of lettuces and swiss chard.
If you click on the upper left hand corner "i" icon, you will be able to see the captions for each photo.
November 5-6, 2019 Planting for the 2019-2020 school year has begun. Our wonderful buildings and grounds staff helped disassemble the tower garden to get all of the roots from last years plants taken out from their interior tangle around the tower's water/ nutrient solution column and get it ready for this year. New material arrived containing the seeds within the net pods and staff and students were anxious to begin! Careful planning on the placement of our vegetables should ensure good spacing for the type of plant. Rambochard, Dinokale, arugula, tomato, lettuce, and basil are among our first plantings. Stay tuned...