On Thursday, January 6th NY Sun Works hosted their first harvest and ribbon cutting of 2022. The celebration marked the official opening of the hydroponic classroom at the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem, with partners from the Eagle Academy Foundation and the New York Power Authority (NYPA). The event was originally planned for March 2020, right before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, so finally getting to cut that ribbon 22 months later made the event even more special. The NY Sun Works hydroponic classroom and complementary curriculum will be used by Eagle Academy’s 9th grade Earth Science and Living Environment students.
Eagle Academy's hydroponic classroom
Eagle Academy Principal Franky Simmons shared, “Programs like our hydroponic farm will change the way our underserved communities think about their food choices. The change we need and desire begins with us, here and now.” Ramsha Farooq, Eagle Academy’s living environment science teacher was beaming with pride as she witnessed her students’ enthusiasm. “Having a green classroom has allowed my students to own the role of farmer-scientists and embrace the challenge of creating a more sustainable future.”
Harvesting from the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) system
9th grade farmer-scientists showed off the leafy greens and fresh herbs they helped grow from seed to harvest and gave guests an informative tour of all the hydroponic systems. The students then harvested green and purple basil, kale, lettuce, and arugula from the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) system. Each of them had the opportunity to take home a bag full of produce to share with their families. The average NY Sun Works hydroponic classroom produces more than 500 pounds of vegetables per school year.
Added NY Sun Works Executive Director Manuela Zamora, “These labs are a place of growth: of lettuce, kale, and tomatoes, but also of curiosity, confidence, and empowerment as students grow their sense of what they can achieve, as scientists, researchers, and farmers.”
Students harvesting and weighing produce
The lab was made possible thanks to the support of the Eagle Academy Foundation and the New York Power Authority’s Environmental Justice program. NY Sun Works provides classroom installation, curriculum, professional development and ongoing teacher training for Eagle Academy’s science department, and will help engage the community through special events. The programming focuses on science, sustainability, climate, energy, food justice and health.
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NY Sun Works