The first of four new green classrooms coming to the Bronx was officially launched today with a ribbon-cutting at PS 25 The Bilingual School on 149th Street. The hydroponic lab, which grows crops indoors without soil, will teach students agricultural skills, environmental science and other sustainability-based programming. Supported by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the program educates young people about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topics and is geared to inspire them to develop an interest in and understanding of the environment and sustainable food production.
“Students learn valuable life skills when they have hands-on experience with urban farming,”said Power Authority President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll. “They see the rewards that come from planting and harvesting healthy foods in a way that protects the environment. These young people are our future, which is why the Power Authority is so pleased to support programs that engage them in the latest technologies to grow food locally in their own communities. Promoting their curiosity and confidence in endeavors that protect our natural resources will help us all build a more sustainable future.”
NYPA will fund operations and maintenance of the lab for three years, including teacher training, student and parent engagement, curriculum and research support.
The Bilingual School is making the classroom part of its science curriculum for students across grades K-6. More than a dozen students showed off crops today that they had grown from seeds as they harvested lettuce and herbs with their fellow students and families. They led tours of the hydroponic systems made up of seeding stations, a tower garden, hanging vines and a composting station, and offered samples of the produce.
"On October 30, we celebrate a significant milestone in the history of PS 25, The Bilingual School, as we inaugurate our hydroponic garden, a symbol of progress and the start of a transformative journey toward a healthier and brighter future for our school and community,” said Principal Raquel Pevey. “As we embark on this journey, let us remember that this garden is a tangible manifestation of our commitment to a more vibrant future for District 7, PS 25, The Bilingual School, and the South Bronx."
The program is one of four new Bronx labs the Power Authority will be supporting in 2024. The three others are PS/MS031, PSX017 and Jill Chaifetz Transfer High School, all in the South Bronx.
The learning lab at The Bilingual School is part of NYPA’s Environmental Justice program, which provides educational resources to students living in underserved communities that host the Power Authority’s facilities statewide. NYPA has funded 33 green classrooms and community laboratories in New York City in recent years while working with New York Sun Works, a non-profit organization that uses hydroponic technology, to educate young people in STEM and provide curriculum, training and community engagement support. The average New York Sun Works hydroponic classroom produces more than 500 pounds of vegetables per school year.
"We're excited to celebrate the official opening of this hydroponic classroom that will bring state-of-the-art science, sustainability and climate education to PS 25 The Bilingual School,” said Manuela Zamora, executive director, NY Sun Works. “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. We're honored to work with our funding partners at NYPA and Councilwoman Diana Ayala to bring this program to this school and to help ensure students have the education they need for the future they deserve.”
“Congratulations to PS 25, the New York Power Authority, and New York Sun Works on the grand opening of the essential, brand new green classroom in the South Bronx,” Assembly Member Amanda Septimo. “Students will have access to resources that teach them the importance of sustainability, food systems, and mastering hydroponic planting for the future. The skills and confidence brought upon by this green classroom will bring students successes and knowledge for a lifetime, and for equipping our environmental justice warriors to combat health inequities and climate change.”
“Today’s ribbon-cutting marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for our PS 25 students who will have the chance to learn through hands-on experience about how they can positively impact our environment,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “I want to thank the New York Power Authority, and New York Sun Works for their partnership with The Bilingual School to bring this important project to fruition and commitment to supporting our youth.”
“The Power Authority works to create educational equity by supporting green classrooms in New York City that teach students the benefits of sustainable agriculture,” said Kaela Mainsah, vice president, NYPA Environmental Justice. “NYPA’s Environmental Justice team will continue to expand these programs into additional communities where more young people can be inspired through technology and innovation to become responsible global citizens that care for their environment and set an example of living sustainably.”
As part of its community engagement activities, the Power Authority’s Environmental Justice team provides workshops on STEM education throughout the state, programs on energy literacy, weatherization and electric transportation, and energy services projects. Most recently, a rooftop garden was announced for the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, an electric vehicle was donated to the Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School, and an indoor food production system for Harlem Grown, a local non-profit organization.