AXTON – Students at Carlisle School have a new opportunity for hands-on educational experiences.
Through the support of generous donors, the school has purchased a tower garden aeroponic growing system.
Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium.
The tower garden system is a part of the school-wide STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) initiative and allows students in grades PK-12th to study plant sciences, sustainable agriculture, and food production through interactive lessons.
Kim Snyder, First Vice President of the Martinsville Garden Club said, "It is our hope that the skills the children learn from caring for the tower garden will encourage them to grow gardens and appreciate the beauty of nature in the future."
Throughout the year, students will grow academically by making predictions, collecting data, record keeping, and performing data analysis; all centered around the tower garden.
Sherry Moschler, STEAM Coordinator for Carlisle School, said that the tower garden keeps young students more engaged in the learning process because aeroponic gardening is so efficient.
“It grows produce 30% faster and also uses just 10% of the water that would be needed for traditional agriculture methods,” she stated.
Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony to recognize donors, students helped kindergarten teacher Margaret Burkhart test the pH of the tower’s nutrient solution and then harvested the first crop of greens.
In addition to using the tower garden as a learning tool, students are also able to enjoy the produce at the dining hall’s cafeteria salad bar.
Cafeteria Director Sarah Marshall and several teachers all observed that students who usually shy away from the salad bar were eager to try out the freshly harvested greens.
“It was truly exciting to see Carlisle students harvesting greens from the garden tower this morning and see their delight in delivering greens they had nurtured to be used in their lunches today,” Judy Epperly, President of the Garden Study Club said.
The garden was made possible by donations from Ken Vickers and Ann Vaughn Martin, the Garden Study Club and the Martinsville Garden Club.
“Ann and I are delighted to be able to support the STEAM program at Carlisle School, which now includes the tower garden. We are also pleased to dedicate this endeavor in honor of our granddaughters Elle & Lielle Hoyer,” Vickers stated.