On April 6th, a wonderful collaboration occurred between the Environmental Sciences class, the Youth In Action Club, and the Leadership class at Nepean High School. The Environmental Science Class and Environmental Club grew over 95 veggie plants, mainly consisting of lettuce. From this number, 45 were donated to the Britannia Wood Food Pantry, with the help of Youth In Action. The Leadership class coordinated the sale of the remaining lettuce to students/staff at Nepean High School and over $135 was raised. This money was both given to the Britannia Wood Food Pantry and used to maintain the hydroponic tower system. So, what is this fantastic tower that can grow lettuce even during the winter, and in such bounty?
In the spring of 2020, principal Mr. Johnson supported the purchase of the Fork Farms hydroponic tower to provide experiential learning, support student engagement and promote community action. Mr. Dash and Ms. McNamara, who were the teachers spearheading the initiative, thought it would be excellent for the school and for the greater community. Unfortunately COVID prevented the launch until this year. Mrs. Topping, who currently manages the tower with her class, states how "students love working with the plants and learning about the hydroponic process which they have never seen before. They also get to help manage the chemistry of the water and contribute to the planting and harvesting which has been awesome learning."
Turns out, it's quite simple to grow lettuce on these hydroponic towers, with most of the veggies taking only a month to grow. Because these towers are vertical, they can produce the same yield as a flat patch of earth but in less space and with less effort. There is also no need for herbicides as there are no weeds, while bugs and critters won’t be a problem because they plants are indoors. It also uses less water than a traditional soil garden. So here is an all year lettuce garden that requires less space, less effort, and less stress but can produce almost 180 heads of lettuce per harvest. In fact, so much student contribution and community partnership has been created with the use of only one of these amazing hydroponic towers. Already the Leadership class and Environmental Science Class are preparing a new batch of veggies to grow. Soon, with the additional help of the Youth In Action Club, these plants will be harvested and the school and community will once again enjoy the bounty from these vertical gardens of lettuce.