RAPID CITY, SD (KEVN) – Running water has become a common noise in Todd Gregson’s classroom where he teaches hydroponic gardening to students. The class began planting the garden in April and helped transform the school’s normal looking courtyard into a quiet area for the students.
“It’s a great place for kids to come out and read, they have benches and chairs out here that were donated. So it’s more than just a garden, it’s a place for children to learn,” said Hermosa Elementary and Middle School principal Frosty Paris.
Aside from having a unique looking garden at school, the end goal is for students to learn how to garden for themselves at home.
“The students, many of them, have no idea what it takes to grow … from farm to fork, and so I’m trying to bring that experience to them,” said Todd Gregson, paraprofessional worker at Hermosa Elementary and Middle School .
What is hydroponic gardening?
According to Gregson, hydroponic gardening means growing plants in a nutrient-rich solution without soil. This means that it is usually water based. Hydroponic gardens can grow plants all year round.
According to The Spruce, this makes hydroponics better than soil in some ways:
- Plants have a higher yield
- In fact, less water is used than traditional gardening because the water doesn’t have to flow through the soil
- Weed is not an issue
- Plants can be grown almost anywhere
But with advantages come certain disadvantages:
- Building can be expensive
- Requires regular monitoring to ensure the system is functioning properly
- Plants are more susceptible to waterborne diseases
- Roots are vulnerable without soil
Student experience with the hydroponic garden
Besides planting, the children not only learned how to harvest their crops, but they also learned how to use them by making different types of jams with cultivated crops.
“Any time we can give kids a hands-on experience, they’ll remember it for the rest of their lives,” Gregson said.
Gregson’s co-teacher, who also began the journey with the children in April, added that it has been a wonderful experience to see the students grow throughout the class.
“It’s like a metaphor, you start with a little seed and then it grows into this big beautiful thing and it’s kind of like her. I mean, it’s already week four and they already know so much,” said Bre McMahon, a teacher at Hermosa Elementary and Middle School.
The hydroponic garden is scheduled to be moved indoors for the latter half of the fall season and the start of the winter season.
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