An open concrete courtyard on the campus of the Hermosa Elementary and Middle School has been transformed into a hydroponics garden and living classroom, bringing an opportunity for both literal and figurative growth to its students.

Todd Gregson, paraprofessional at Hermosa Elementary and Middle School, envisioned the project for middle school and elementary school students, providing an opportunity for students to learn where their food comes from and learn the unique process of hydroponic growing.

Gregson, who has experience with his own hydroponics garden, worked with middle schoolers to conceive and build the hydroponics garden and for elementary students to enjoy and work in it. The garden has a storybook theme, introduced by a hand-crafted sign reading “Mr. McGregor’s Garden” at the entrance to the garden, welcoming all but rabbits. “No Rabbits—Go Away!” it warns. Jack and the Beanstalk and a salsa-loving dragon also contribute to the theme, with decorations created by staff and students scattered throughout the garden.

While eating the produce was the students’ favorite garden activity, a close second was defending the plants from attacking bugs using ladybugs. The students proudly displayed transparent green vials lined with crawling ladybugs, waiting to be unleashed on the plants.

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