Learning about sustainable agriculture and ecosystems is fun when students grow food and feed rescue animals with the food that they grow.
Students at Bloomington Junior High School are maintaining four indoor gardens and some rescue animals with hydroponics, which is a method of growing plants using clay and recycled water. In doing so they are learning “about ecosystems, the water cycle, plants … and the food chain” as well as “the social skills of caring for animals (and) responsibility of sharing the animals,” said organizer Jayme Corcoran.
“Many students at BJHS live in rented homes with little land (and opportunity to garden),” said Corcoran, a learning behavior specialist at the school. “Students researched garden setup, planting and harvesting of the vegetables and herbs so we wouldn’t fail. They were so excited.”
The plants that students grew by using water from a fish tank included cilantro, lettuce and oregano. They feed their plants to a menagerie of animals that have become the team petting zoo – several guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, a gecko, a hedgehog, and a turtle. Students also taste the plants.