Douglas High School students learn how to grow plants without soil | Environment
WINSTON – The greenhouse at Douglas High School is home to 200 hydroponic strawberries growing in nutrient-rich water without soil.
“It’s pretty cool,” said junior Faith Rademacher. “I didn’t know you could grow things without soil.
Michelle Berray teaches hydroponics to the class, but enlisted the help of several other departments in the school when building the new facility.
The welding class helped build the A-frame that contains the system, and the lumber class built a frame that would leave space for the water tank below.
“It’s a basic A-frame, but we cut little cutters on it with our CNC machine,” said freshman Seth Marsh. “I think it was pretty cool. It is a project that will benefit the whole school.
Douglas High School will have a new greenhouse set up by the next school year, with one dedicated to growing traditional plants and the other dedicated to hydroponics.
Berray said the new leadership came from Rob Holveck, the former agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, who is now the high school’s deputy principal.
“We have done a tremendous job destroying our soil,” Berray said. “You can use hydroponics anywhere. This is what they will use in space. “
Berray wrote a farm-to-school grant for this school year and received over $ 6,500 to start a hydroponics system.
She didn’t know much about hydroponics when she started, but was able to get started with instructions from DC Hydroponics. When Berray found a video of a system she liked on YouTube, she was able to enlist the help of several local businesses to help her realize her vision.
Students at Douglas High School attend school two days a week in person and learn virtually the other two days.
Students learn to test pH levels and set up the system. Berray’s hope is to teach nutrients in future classes, but she was mostly focused on launching the program this year.
The strawberries were planted in the hydroponic system on May 10. Each plant is in a small basket with clay pellets that provide support to the plant but not nutrients, while the nutrient-enriched water continuously passes through a system of tubes that feeds the roots of the plants.
The greenhouse also has a flood table and aquaponic buckets for growing plants in different hydroponic setups.
“The goal is to provide greens for school meals,” Berray said.
Some of the students at Berray grew microgreens earlier in the year, which were tasted to taste by many students in the school.
Ash Marcisz, a junior, said the microgreens initially tasted like weed coming out of a dumpster, but if you added it to cream cheese it tasted pretty good.
When students return to school in the fall, the strawberries should bear fruit and will continue to do so throughout the year.
Sanne Godfrey can be contacted at email@example.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.