Hydroponic Garden for the Classroom: Best Options and How to Get Started

Hydroponic gardening is rapidly gaining popularity as an innovative and engaging method of cultivation that challenges traditional agricultural practices. By growing plants without soil and utilizing controlled nutrient solutions, hydroponics offers a range of benefits, from increased crop yields to energy conservation. 

At the same time, it has been embraced as a progressive and innovative approach to engaging students in hands-on learning. With a focus on sustainability, environmental awareness, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, hydroponic gardening programs in schools offer a unique opportunity to meet students where they are, both academically and developmentally. 

Let’s take a closer look at the strategic advantages of integrating hydroponic gardening into the classroom, as well as how systems are designed to address common concerns of educators who may be familiarizing themselves with sustainable, soilless indoor farming.

Hydroponic Gardens are Ideal for the School and Classroom

Hydroponic gardening has emerged as a modern way to both educate and captivate students. It provides a hands-on approach to learning that engages kids, from kindergarteners to high schoolers, in practical skill development. 

From planting seeds to monitoring plant growth, students actively participate in every step of the process, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility. In other words, hydroponic gardening brings textbooks to life. From understanding plant biology to exploring ecosystems, these programs teach students about sustainability in a tangible way, nurturing an appreciation for nature that goes beyond the classroom.

Moreover, as a cross-curricular activity, hydroponic farming has the added benefit of engaging school children across multiple study areas. While students from one discipline, say agriculture, can focus on monitoring plant growth or adjusting nutrient levels, students from another–business or accounting, for example–can balance the books, calculate ROI, or create marketing programs around the system.

When students can see how their coursework applies across various school subjects and in the real world, it tends to resonate more with them. 

Yet another element of hydroponic gardening that makes it ideally suited to an educational setting is the many ways in which it can be used, from students taking fresh greens home to their families to sharing at a local food pantry or adult community center. Some call this latter practice “service learning,” or more colloquially “educating the whole child,” where schools give back to their local communities by donating proceeds from the unit to a worthy cause or organization.    

Solution-Based Systems For Your Classroom Garden

Implementing successful hydroponic gardening programs in schools requires addressing budget constraints and effectively managing resources. Schools can seek grants, donations, or sponsorships to secure funding for equipment and supplies while implementing efficient resource management strategies to ensure the long-term viability of their programs. 

In addition to cost and time/resource management questions, educators may also want clarity on how the system can be integrated into their curriculum and the level of support they can expect from their supplier.  

At Fork Farms, our Flex Farm system is designed with built-in solutions to address these questions and any others that may arise before, during, or after purchase. 

The Flex Farm’s features are practically tailor-made for the classroom or any facility on school grounds, be it an unused supply closet or a lonely corner of the cafeteria. Its footprint is only 3 feet by 3 feet, making it roughly the size of a standard refrigerator. It also sits on casters, so it can be moved from one room to the next with relative ease.  

Because it operates in a controlled environment (indoors), the Flex Farm can be utilized year-round, so it’s totally independent of seasonal or climate conditions. Plus, by limiting the threat of pests, there is no need for pesticides or other potentially harmful chemicals.  

In terms of both crop yield and overall efficiency, the Flex Farm produces an industry-leading 25 lbs of fresh leafy greens every 28 days, all while using less water than soil-based agriculture. And, because the unit is located on-site, you won’t experience the degradation that typically comes from transporting crops to their destination from traditional farms.  

But perhaps most impressive are the Flex Farm’s strong-yet-versatile curriculum and accompanying support services. In fact, the Flex Farm system comes complete with coursework that can be tailored to different grade levels, allowing teachers to combine their own individual expertise with the Flex Farm program and giving them the freedom to choose what works best for their students. 

The curriculum itself includes learning targets, classroom activities, supplemental resources, and suggested assessments to ensure a well-rounded educational experience. It is actually aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, making it a reputable choice for schools across the US.

The supplemental materials provided with Flex Farm, such as the Farmative online engagement community, offer additional assistance. Farmative includes videos that guide students through setting up the Flex Farm system, allowing them to take ownership of the process.

Fork Farms provides further support through a live chat on the website, email (support@forkfarms.com), and Farmative’s community forum, where teachers and students can connect with over 1,800 active users. 

This robust support system helps teachers overcome or bypass any challenges they may face while incorporating Flex Farm into their lesson plans.

Taking the First Step In Choosing A Hydroponic Garden For The Classroom

Hydroponic gardening has proven to be a powerful tool for enhancing education and nurturing students' overall development. By embracing this sustainable practice, schools can cultivate future generations of environmentally conscious individuals equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in a changing world.

To start integrating a hydroponic garden system into your classroom, contact one of our expert team members today! 

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