Students take pride in growing food for the school cafeteria
Windom Area High School’s Greenhouse Management class is using hydroponic towers to grow their own vegetables.
The class adopted the use of hydroponics, a method of growing plants without soil. Their lab contains 30 hydroponic towers, which they use to learn how to grow their own food.
What is the name of your farm?
Windom High School Hydroponic Lab
Why Tower Garden®?
The Tower Garden was chosen because of it’s space efficiency in growing produce. It also was energy efficient due to the LED lighting option.
What are they being used for?
The Tower Gardens are used as an educational tool for the Windom Area High School. Each student is in charge of maintaining 1-2 towers. This includes: planting, harvesting, and daily care. This hands-on opportunity allows students to learn about plant production including plant physiology as well as nutrition. One of the most important things the students have learned is the effect of pH on plant nutrient uptake. The produce is used in the school cafeteria for daily lunches. This gives the students a sense of ownership and pride in the project.
How many Tower Gardens did you start with and what was your plan for these? How many do you have now?
This project started with 10 towers of the original design that included cages for the lights to hang on. We added 20 additional towers with the most current LED light design. The current design is easier when it comes to harvesting, as well as cleaning at the end of a growth cycle. We currently harvest an average of 40 pounds per week. This is the ideal harvest size because it provides enough salad greens to feed the school population. We have tried a variety of plants in the towers. Leaf lettuce just happens to be a crop with a fast growth and harvest cycle. Other plants would take longer to mature and wouldn’t produce enough to supply food for the entire school.
What has been the reaction from the students, teachers and parents?
The students love to have a hands-on project that they are responsible for. They also like to promote their products at lunch because of the freshness and high quality. The faculty, public and media think it’s an amazing activity.
How many Tower Gardens would you like to have over time and will they be used for anything other than explained above?
We do not plan on adding any more towers, due to space and number of students per class. We may set aside a tower to grow herbs for the culinary class at school.
How were you able to raise the funds?
Funding for the entire project was acquired through grants and donations from area businesses.
If you would like to implement a similar program in your facility, please contact us below.
View our other Tower Farm Projects here.