Hydroponic garden adds green space to Hermosa School

HERMOSA, S.D. – Hermosa School opened its doors with a newly expanded building last fall, which brought new life to the school. It wasn’t long before a teacher noticed that the outdoor courtyard could use some greenery.

We have a brand new school and when we have a courtyard like this, it’s kind of just a concrete jungle and we can bring some life to it,” said Hermosa School Principal Frosty Paris.

I just thought it would be the perfect setting for a living classroom and with some hydroponic gardens,” teacher Todd Gregson agreed.

Gregson, who also owns a local hydroponic garden, jumped on the opportunity to share his passion with his students.

“Any time I have teachers that have a passion or excitement for something such as Mr. Gregson has for the hydroponics, I think we want to run with that and we want to take their strengths and that enthusiasm and try to get the students engaged and enthusiastic about it,” Paris adds. “And that’s really what’s happened. “

Gregson describes how he involved the students in the project.

They got to pick what they wanted to grow. We had to design it. They had to find out which type of growing system worked best for the type of product they wanted to grow. They’ve been out here taking care of plants, harvesting, adding ladybugs to our crop to control pests, so they’ve had their hands on everything,” he said.

The garden also helps students learn about the food on their table and how it ended up there.

“They learn about planting seeds, growing, harvesting, caring for plants, how to control pests, how to grow food without chemicals. A couple of the kids that planted watermelon were like, ‘Well, when do we get to pick a watermelon? Or when? When do we get to pick a pumpkin?’ They didn’t understand, you know, the whole growing process and what it takes. So I think it’s really important for students to understand where their food comes from, how it’s grown and how to use it.”

They learn about irrigation and sustainability too.

The system is set up with a recirculating system, so we add organic nutrient to a tank and then every 30 minutes or so the pump kicks on for one to two minutes and delivers the nutrient rich solution to the plants. And anything that’s left over goes back in the tank, so it’s reused,” explained Gregson.

Some lessons are best learned outside the classroom.

That…gives the kids a chance to be engaged and learn…besides being in a book all the time, and that’s super important for me and for our community, for sure,” Paris said.

The fruits and vegetables will be cared for and harvested during summer classes, continuing into the start of school in the fall.

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