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The Experiment

Great River Charter School Grows Hydroponics

 

The Great River Charter School
St. Paul MN
http://www.greatriverschool.org/
Micro-Economics 7th-8th Grade, 2007
Omega Garden, Model 10002

The 8th Graders of Eric Lanners micro-economics class had unusual learning experience this year.  With the help of a Toshiba grant, they were able to purchase an Omega Garden for use in the classroom.  The objectives for the students in this process are to:
  1. cultivate usable hydroponic grown foods from seeds to product in a hands-on learning environment,

  2. assemble, operate, and maintain the cylindrical hydroponics system and growing plants,

  3. develop and execute commercial plans for selling their food to assist in school budget and learn the science of economics.

How They Did It

On May 1st, 2007, the Great River School micro-economics class were successfully growing a variety of herbs and plants with the Omega Garden Hydroponic system. All of the hands-on work from assembly to harvest was performed by the students.

Two of the 8th graders, Jeran and Andrew, configured and set up the Omega Garden from the pallet of boxes as they were received.  They simply followed the written instructions and watched the included video while at the same time, used some of the mechanical skills taught in their classroom.

The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.
The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

Other members of the Great River Growing team, Elijah and Caleb, are responsible for ongoing maintenance of the nutrient and watering delivery. This includes checking and adjusting concentration levels of plant food and keeping the 25 gallon water reservoir full.

Duties shared among the team include, transferring seedlings to rockwool cubes, installing seedling cubes into the Omega Garden, trimming growing plants to improve growth characteristics, and the fun part – harvesting for use!


In addition to flowers for their parents, the team has also successfully cultivated the following herbs from seed to product:

  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Lettuce
  • Mesclun
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  •  

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Notes on the Growing

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    1) The students were impressed at how easy plants grew in the rotary hydroponics. This was in comparison to conventional hydroponics they had on the other side of the room. Many of the seedlings were looking very impoverished but started to grow quickly and stoutly when placed in the Omega.

    2) They also assigned letters to each of the 24 growing trays so they could easily record and report on plant statistics such as variety and planting and harvesting times. The Omega Garden Research Team believed this to be an excellent idea and are looking at integrating it into future designs.

    3) Grow lights are kept on for 12 hour intervals and a standard hydroponic nutrient solution (3-1.5-4 nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K)) was concentrated to a 900-1100ppm range.

    The solution is derived from Fish meal, composted sea bird guano, sea kelp, spirulina, soybean protein extract, rock phosphate, potassium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, calcium carbonate, humic acid, fulvic acid, citric acid, raw sugar cane, Agrimineral 72 (silica clay extract), amino acids, B-complex vitamins, and select botanical plant extracts, and is considered non-toxic and organic.

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.
    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    4) With light and pump timers, the growing system is also able to operate through spring and summer vacations with minimal required maintenance.

    5) The lighting source used by the team are two 200W compact fluorescent bulbs. They were purchased at a local hydroponic/gardening supply store.

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Success!

    The students have successfully grown food. Furthermore, they have produced 1 pound of basil per week and sold this to a nearby store at a cost of $10 per half pound. They expect the harvest quantities to increase exponentially as the students become more experienced gardeners and plant more densely. Overall, the first season of growing with an Omega Garden has been a success.

    For the time being, the experiment will continue and a new team of Omega Garden urban farming 8th graders will take control next fall.  Check back for news!

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    View Pictures From The Great River Charter School

    Great River School

    growing hydroponics with the Omega Garden

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Discussing the Duties

    The Omega Garden Team discussing growing strategies

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Measuring Plant Growth

    When to Harvest the hydroponically grown plants?

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Checking out the Compact Flourescents

    The lights in the Omega Garden

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Gardening Options

    What can we grow?

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Adding Water

    One of the team members adds water to the Omega Garden reservoir tank

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Plant Tray

    How the rotary garden holds the plants

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Checking Nutrient Concentration

    ppm 900-1100 range

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    The Nutrient Solution

    Designed for Hydroponic growing

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Checking out the pumps

    The water/food pumps to the feeding tray

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Watching the Plants Grow

    checking out the growth

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    The Inside of the Garden

    The Great River School Garden

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    The Feeding Records

    Chalkboard in classroom

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Traditional Hydroponics

    The Omega Garden Plants tend to grow quicker and more robust

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Page Notes on Growing

    The Student's Notes

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Removing a Plant Tray for Harvesting

    Simple to exchange

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Ready to add new plants

    Fill with Rockwool cubes and seedlings

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Insert Plant Tray

    inserting the hydropnics tray with basil

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Fix Locking Pin

    one step to ensure a sturdy plant tray

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Green Growth

    The plants are beginning to fill in

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Added Tray Letters

    the students added letters to help with recording and tracking

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Lettuce and Basil

    The Food grown hydroponic

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    Great River School Hydroponic Team

    With teacher Eric Lanners

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    The Students and Garden

    Omega Garden in the corner of classroom

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    The Classroom and Garden

    Omega Garden in the corner of classroom

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.

    From outside the classroom

    Hydroponics in the classroom

    The Great River Montessori School uses an Omega Garden Hydroponics System to grow Basil, Flowers, and Vegetables as part of a Micro-economics Class.
     

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