Linntown teacher grows student interest in hydroponic gardening – Sunbury Daily Item

LEWISBURG — Gardening isn’t unusual to the students in Erin Rittle’s class at Linntown Intermediate School, but the hydroponic farm stand she set up this year inside her classroom sure was.

Rittle entered a contest online and was gifted a $500 vertical…….

npressfetimg-16933.png

LEWISBURG — Gardening isn’t unusual to the students in Erin Rittle’s class at Linntown Intermediate School, but the hydroponic farm stand she set up this year inside her classroom sure was.

Rittle entered a contest online and was gifted a $500 vertical garden from Seeds of Success Therapy Group and Lettuce Grow.

The contest judges thought well of Rittle’s entry that explained how she would assign specific tasks to students who would track the growth of plants on the stand. She also expressed a belief that the stand and resulting class project would help engage students with special needs and behavioral needs.

Rittle wanted students to learn how to incorporate healthy options in their diets along with lessons both in food sustainability and self-sustainability.

“The whole thing behind this was to create fun,” Rittle said. “When students have a say or a hand or a part in what they’re doing, they’re more likely to get excited about it.”

The 24-plant hydroponic stand is about 4 feet in height. Starter seedlings come in pods that are inserted into the stand. It’s self-watering and self-fertilizing. Rittle turned to Linntown’s PSA, which purchased grow lights at about $350.

Linntown is a school in the Lewisburg Area School District.

Students refill the basin, test the pH levels and provide nutrients weekly. They’re all assigned an individual plant to track as it grows.

Addison Smith, 9, put two fingers beneath a red hibiscus flower, pulling at it ever so slightly for a better look, to show the plant assigned to her. To the flower’s immediate right is another, purple, growing from the same plant.

“I thought it was unusual that mine had two different colors,” Smith said.

Tristan Roupp, 10, has a marigold that’s bloomed, too. Sullivan Tiede, 10, must wait much longer for the alpine strawberry plant to bear fruit, perhaps about four months. It’s begun to flower but has a ways to go.

They didn’t have to wait long for the stand’s lettuce to cultivate. It was harvested in under a month and was the main ingredient for the class’s lettuce party. Students brought in a variety of other vegetables and toppings and together they ate salad.

“It was all fresh and everything. It was delicious,” Roupp said.

The party allowed the students to explore the tastes of vegetables they’ve never tried or give another chance to those they don’t like. The tofu one student brought in proved a surprising hit, she said. It encouraged many to request salad at home.

“You wouldn’t believe how excited fourth-graders would be to eat salad,” Rittle said.

There are green beans, kale, bok choy, sugar snap peas and more growing from the stand now. Rittle and Principal Eric Wetzel spoke of potentially broadening the effort, perhaps with another stand or even raised garden beds installed in a courtyard at the school.

Other teachers are excited about the hydroponic garden as are students beyond Rittle’s own class.

“They’re almost jealous, like, ‘I want to do that.’ My kids, they’re pretty proud that they’re the ones to have it,” Rittle said.

Class Acts is a weekly feature highlighting students, teachers, programs and projects at Valley school districts. Email suggestions for future stories to [email protected]

Source: https://www.dailyitem.com/news/linntown-teacher-grows-student-interest-in-hydroponic-gardening/article_b876398e-4657-11ec-add6-13ce2ef13eae.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *