Built as a PTA community service project Earth Day last year, the Mabry Elementary hydroponic garden is huge! The garden is funded through a grant with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Mabry PTA, and Mabry Elementary Student Council. At max capacity, the garden holds up to 740 plants—almost enough for one plant per student!
The garden wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of Ms. Jessica Strauss, Mabry’s 3rd grade AGP Math and Science Teacher, the students from her Green Gang Gardeners Club and a partnership with a local nonprofit called TUB Farms started by Nava Kirk, an alum of Hillsborough County Public Schools.
Vegetables have been harvested three times this semester, growing over 85 pounds of produce. Gone are the days of bake sales, Mabry now holds a farmer’s market at their Annual Walk-A-Thon fundraiser each fall, and just before Thanksgiving, Mabry donated 20 pounds of fresh veggies to Meals on Wheels.
Last week, little gardeners distributed close to 25 pounds of produce to families and staff, and accepted monetary donations to continue to fund the garden. Families and staff took home included bunches of Swiss chard, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprout leaves, 15 bunches of herbs and over 100 bite-sized sweet bell peppers, and an additional 10 pounds was donated to Meals on Wheels!
The ultimate goal for the garden is to grow enough to provide an established donation source for the Meals on Wheels POW! program. They plan to continue to do small farmer’s markets to help offset maintenance costs and donate the remaining produce grown. This gives students an opportunity to give back to their community. Some of the garden club members green gang even got a tour of Meals on Wheels when they delivered produce to the charity in November. In the new year, there is a plan to get even more classes involved and work on more integration with classroom curriculum.
Did you Know?
Hydroponic gardening means growing plants without the use of soil. Hydroponic gardening has many advantages over traditional gardening including, bigger and more frequent harvests, no day-to-day maintenance, precise control over growing conditions, fewer bugs, and it saves water. Students learn about health, nutrition, sustainability and water conservation, science, math.
School gardens help kids grow. Whether focused on fruits and veggies, native plants or wildlife, school gardens provide hands-on connections to science, nutrition, math and a variety of other subjects.View Full Album