RICHMOND, Va. — Students at Meherrin Elementary School in Southampton County and Powhatan Middle School in Powhatan County will get to cultivate leafy greens in their classrooms with new hydroponics systems presented by Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom.
Each school received one HYVE® LF-ONE hydroponic system from Virginia AITC as part of a statewide giveaway to mark the organization’s 30th anniversary. AITC presented the systems to the schools on Nov. 9 and Nov. 11; they are two of four schools in Virginia that won the hydroponics donations. More than 700 schools were entered into the drawing.
“We celebrate the opportunity to provide schools, teachers and students with resources to enhance learning about agriculture and encourage students’ curiosity in farming and the sources of their food,” said Tammy Maxey, Virginia AITC executive director.
The LF-ONE hydroponic systems, each valued at $750, also included curriculum and lesson plans for teachers, bringing the total value to each school to approximately $1,000.
The systems will allow students to learn how to cultivate crops using an alternative to traditional farming techniques. Hydroponics is a popular method of growing produce without soil or natural light—instead using water, a nutrient solution and LED grow lights. Ideal for small spaces, hydroponic systems can be used year-round and are an easy, efficient way to grow produce without the upkeep required by a traditional garden.
“This will give students an opportunity to see the growing process from start to finish,” said Susan Fowler, principal of Meherrin Elementary School. “We have raised beds outside, but we have been limited because by the time you plant and the produce grows, it’s time for school to let out. This way students can experience the entire growing process while they’re in class.”
Dawn Monson, Powhatan Middle School science teacher, said she plans to integrate the hydroponics system into her students’ curriculum.
“We’ll talk about what it takes to grow plants and vegetables, and all the variables that can go right and wrong in having a successful harvest,” she said. “I’ll also incorporate lessons about photosynthesis, the carbon and nitrogen cycles, testing pH, genetics and interdependency between humans and the Earth. I’m hoping my students will appreciate where their food comes from and how we need to take care of the Earth.”
Virginia AITC works to connect children with agriculture and farming by providing educators with materials and resources to use with their students. The program’s website, Facebook page and YouTube channel contain free, curriculum-focused lesson plans, activities, demonstrations and even virtual farm tours.
The Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom is a 501c3 nonprofit organization supported by individuals and businesses throughout the commonwealth. The program promotes a greater understanding and appreciation of agriculture through education and outreach activities such as providing accurate agriculture resources, school grants and professional development. To learn how you can support it, visit AgInTheClass.org.
–Virginia Farm Bureau