Ginger Moyah, the principal at Grassy Plains School, shares how they have used funding to purchase five grow towers.

Grow towers rely on what is called a hydroponic system that promotes plant growth without soil. It instead uses motorized pumps, water and a nutrient solution to grow herbs, fruits and other types of plants. Each system has numerous units and slots on the sides of the system, where each plant is stored. Check out this interview with Ginger to learn more about how these grow towers supplement their breakfast program:

 

What were the beginnings of the grow towers?

So, we’re still kind of getting our feet under us with it. We ended up getting some funding through our local reserves, as well as our AVID coordinator, and Breakfast Club of Canada gave additional funds. We were able to purchase five grow towers, so that would be one for every one of our classrooms, and right now we’re just trying to figure them all out. One classroom sadly lost their crop to some bugs that came on though.

 

What kind of crops are the kids growing?

We’ve basically just started with the seeds that came with the kit. There is lettuce, arugula, kale, Swiss chard and basil, mostly greens so we can make salads and stuff with the kids. And, oh my goodness, the kids love it.

 

What has the feedback from the students been?

When they go to the kindergarten class, it doesn’t matter when or why there’s one little kindergarten girl who always shouts “MRS. MOYAH, COME LOOK AT THE BABIES!” She brings me over to see how big they’ve grown because they actually grow quite a bit faster than a regular garden. They have more light and nutrients so that’s pretty cool to watch. And all the kids are excited and keep an eye on everything.

 

And now you will be able to grow all year, right, because they’re indoors?

Exactly, which is huge for us too, because we live in quite a cold climate up here. Our growing time is the end of May until the end of August, basically. So much different than our traditional gardens. And for several years, we’ve been trying to garden with a community garden that’s right off our school property. But oftentimes, by the time we get back in September, because it is a community garden, people have already harvested a lot of the crops so the kids go through so much work and then they don’t get to see the rewards. The grow towers have been an amazing alternative to that.

 

How did you come up with the idea?

It was actually inspired from another principal in our district who started it at their school in town. And it was something that I’ve always wanted to do in my house. Growing and gardening has always been something that the school has tried to do but hasn’t had much success with, so we’re hoping this will be something that could be more sustainable during their school months because we don’t have our kids when the plants are actually growing in the ground outside. They don’t get to really see the full growth cycle of the vegetables and plants.

 

We’re you impacted this year by the changes?

Well, we’re just getting going; our plans are to not only supplement our hot lunch program because it would mostly be supplementing it with kale and breakfast smoothies. So, it will most likely benefit the lunch program. If we get production going enough, then we can send some stuff in healthy food boxes to some of our community members or our families in need. We’re hoping that we can have a great impact on our community.