NY Sun Works in partnership with Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. today announced the opening of a new greenhouse and hydroponic farm classroom at Village Academy in Far Rockaway, Queens. The ribbon-cutting celebration unveiled a classroom with aquaponic and hydroponic technologies to complement the school’s sustainability science curriculum provided by the nonprofit.
“In the wake of Superstorm Sandy’s 11th anniversary, we’re honored to build new opportunities for climate science and sustainability education in one of New York’s most severely impacted communities, and welcome Village Academy to our cohort of Queens schools,” said NY Sun Works Executive Director Manuela Zamora. “Our urban farms strive to encourage students to explore opportunities and experiences in STEM. We are committed to empowering a new generation of scientists, climate advocates, and community leaders to create solutions to local and global resource challenges.”
The NYC School Construction Authority managed the entire project and worked with multiple consultants in the design and construction of the greenhouse.
“I have been a longtime supporter of bringing hydroponics into our schools because it helps students learn valuable lessons about bioscience and agriculture, which allows a school to substantially enhance its STEM curriculum,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “We all know that, in the 21st-century world, our students need a solid understanding of STEM to be able to succeed. We therefore owe a deep debt of gratitude to NY Sun Works and to everyone who helped make this classroom at Village Academy possible.”
This is the newest and the most state-of-the-art lab built to date in New York City and it is located right here in Far Rockaway,” said Village Academy Principal Doris Lee. “In this space we will inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, statisticians, biologists, climatologists, botanists, agriculturalists, agronomists, activists, and world changers. When we speak of equity and access this is a prime example. This is an opportunity that will change the trajectory of our community and most possibly the world.”
Village Academy joins a bevy of 66 funded partner schools in Queens. Borough President Richards Jr. is committed to supporting these schools and expanding climate education across the boroughs in communities in need and greatly affected by severe weather, climate change and food insecurity.
“This is an amazing moment for Village Academy. In an urban community like Far Rockaway, I think it’s remarkable that our students will learn new skills through a greenhouse and hydroponic farm,” said Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato. “I am thankful for NY Sun Works and the Borough President as they are providing the investment and infrastructure our students deserve.”
NY Sun Works delivers inquiry-based K-12 science and sustainability education through the lens of urban farming. The goals are to support each school’s long-term capacity to deliver a high-quality science program; optimize students’ learning experience in the hydroponic classroom; and expand access to fresh produce for students and their families, while covering the Common Core, Scope and Sequence, and EfS science standards. Hydroponic technology is indoor vertical farming that enables the cultivation of plants in an indoor environment. Rather than from the sun, plants receive energy from LED lighting that is tailored specifically to the energy needs of the plants. Instead of using soil, seeds are planted in soil-free growth mediums.
Partner schools like Village Academy will receive ongoing professional development training for science educators and weekly visits from a hydroponic specialist to guide teachers in hydroponic systems maintenance, provide planting, harvest, and produce distribution support; and clean, prep, and troubleshoot systems.