John P. Holland Charter school has first harvest from hydroponic garden

Just months after being awarded the USDA’s Farm to School Grant Program, in partnership with New York Sun Works, John P. Holland Charter School had their first harvest on Friday.

Students from Pre-K to 8th grade gathered around the hydroponic garden to learn how it worked and even got to taste some herbs. Teachers are nearing the end of their training and will soon be able to begin the new curriculum that New York Sun Works has provided.

New York Sun Works is a third party working with a variety of schools throughout New York City and New Jersey. “We just built this whole classroom this year as part of the greenhouse project that we started 10 years ago,” Sawicka said. “We just want to bring STEM to kids, whatever age they are.”

“I’m most excited about all the implications,” Neril Sandeep, 5th-8th grade science teacher said. “As a science teacher, I’m always caring about the application. It’s about the community-driven stuff, being able to potentially reach out to vendors and have them maybe do a sample so that they can think about hydroponics in their restaurant or their facilities.”

Sandeep told his students to keep the pumpkin seeds from their pumpkins so they can grow more with the hydroponic garden for next fall. “We can already find ways to get kids involved,” Sandeep said. “It’s understanding that full circle of life.” The school’s goal is for students to learn why hydroponics is so meaningful and inspire them to go into food production in the future or broaden their choices when it comes to food.

“The kids will also be bringing this home to their families, so if they're more interested in eating vegetables at school, they might request to eat it at home and tell their parents to buy it,” Sawicka said.

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