“We are thrilled to be working with teams of students and staff at BPS. These hydroponic gardens give BPS students hands-on opportunities to witness the power and beauty of food and science coming together. Students start by planting tiny seeds that quickly grow into food––lettuce and herbs on their plate,” says Caitie Dwyer-Huppert, Director of Education Programs at Green City Growers.
Green City Growers is excited to announce a new program to place hydroponic gardens in school cafeterias, as part of its partnership with Boston Public Schools. Students in the Madison Park Technical Vocational High School Special Education program debuted the program this past summer. English High School and Charlestown High School students joined the program and started their hydroponic gardens this November. Green City Growers will install gardens in four more Boston middle and high schools in January 2024.
Green City Growers installs hydroponic gardens. Then, through their farming-as-a-service program, a Green City Growers’ farmer educator works with students and teachers each week to keep the gardens flourishing and provide an educational curriculum.
Growing curriculum in hydroponics
According to Paul Barry, BPS Madison Park Special Education teacher, “It has been a great opportunity to work with Green City Growers and the hydroponic gardens. Students are using math skills when testing the units for pH and total solids, and they are eating what they plant. In addition, they are learning science concepts, like earth cycles, photosynthesis, energy flow through ecosystems, and reducing their carbon footprint. Students learn how to plant, cultivate, and harvest crops. All work is student-generated. This hands-on experience has been a promising inclusion to student learning.”
BPS is quickly growing in placing hands-on hydroponic gardens in schools. Burke High School, TechBoston Academy, and the O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science will begin hydroponic gardening programs in 2024. As the excitement builds, the program will expand to other BPS schools.
This program is possible because of the close partnership between Green City Growers and BPS Food and Nutrition Services, the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Program within Facilities Management, and the Special Education Department. Funding for these novel projects comes from the BPS Special Education Department, grants from the Department of Secondary and Elementary Education’s (DESE) MA FRESH (Farming Reinforces Education & Student Health) and the USDA’s Farm to School grant, from BPS ESSER funds, and Fork Farms donations.