You might be wondering, how or where can vegetables be grown at Edison? The answer is by the hydroponics lab that is located on the first floor of the school. The class, formally known as Botany or the Urban Farm, is a fairly new program that started in January of 2016.
The lab is run by Maria Cassella and is used by the students and is entirely hands-on. According to Ms. Cassella the class “begin by planting seeds in rockwool, placing the seeds under a heat lamp and watering them every other day.” Once the seeds sprout, they transport them to a tower in which they will be able to bloom as they grow. During harvesting in the lab, they bag and sell them to the farmers market that they usually hold every Friday.
The produce grown in the lab consists of herbs and vegetables, such as basilc, parsley, oregano, cilantro, multiple types of lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and eggplants. They are sold to the farmers market they personally hold or are given to the Edison Cafe to be incorporated into the food they cook. Other than the produce, the lab has recently branched out into growing their first batch of flowers, which includes sunflowers, marigolds, lavender, and rosemary.
As sales of produce is relevant, the inclusion of flowers has allowed the lab to have their first flower sale for Mother’s Day.
“Our first ever Mother’s Day sale was a huge success.” … “The flowers that were sold have been six weeks in the making.”
The students took care of the plants from the first day by maintaining the tanks. They monitor the water using knowledge of EC and PH levels since the lab doesn’t use any soil when growing. As well as checking the water, the student farmers prune the plants to stimulate their growth.
“Once the flowers were harvested for our Mother’s Day sale students then used soil to plant them in pots. These pots were eventually sold to the staff at Thomas Edison,” Ms. Cassella said.
Not many people know of this room or the work they do that provides to the school. They grow and nurture plants that are being used at the Edison Cafe and are being sold in the market they hold. The class is definitely a different environment than a regular learning environment which excites the students and makes them want to learn more.