The new school year at West Hollow has brought the 214 STEAM lab a new group of MarsFarming engineers. Students were excited to hear about the challenges and activities that awaited them. Six students, pictured above, were enthusiastic enough to stay after school on the first Friday of the academic calendar to have the chance to help construct and stock a new growing system in our MarsFarm.
The new vertical hydroponic growing method is known as ebb and flow. A lower reservoir periodically floods the roots of our Quinault strawberry bed resting just above in order to bathe their exposed roots in nutrient solution. It then passively drains back down to be recycled. We are hoping to accelerate plant growth while minimizing water usage. This is our first shot at growing with this method and with this type of fruiting crop. We are certain there will be challenges along the way, but that is part of the fun! Throughout the early fall students will be stocking the MarsFarm with crops ranging from tomatoes and cucumbers, to leafy greens and herbs. They should reach maturity just as Long Island’s outdoor growing environment is becoming dormant and ice-covered for the winter.
To start the school year, our students will be joined by others in California, Missouri, Texas, Georgia, and New Jersey as we develop a small pilot group of schools that will share our journey on FlipGrid. Later in the school year we will branch this out to friends in Canada and Finland as we look to extend our community garden across international borders. Stay tuned as we grow and learn together.