The opening of the new Science Building and the Student Project Lab housed within has already provided a multitude of learning opportunities for our students, including a work space for robotics, a launch pad for a student-made autonomous glider, and literal “hands-on” experience with precision farming. Fifth-Form student Jamarya Jackson, with assistance from Simona Christian ’20 and Holly Diomede ’20, has created a hydroponic garden within the lab. Hydroponic farming is the practice of growing plants in a water-based nutrient solution instead of soil. The students submitted a proposal for funding to include PVC piping; energy-efficient T5 LED lighting system and supplies, such as grow cubes, Perlite, and MaxiGrow, to Science Department Head Dr. Stephen Zins. With funding approved, the students began planting in January and continue to grow.
The climate-controlled room and open space make the Student Project Lab an ideal location for this endeavor. Students attempted to launch this project in the old science building but space and uncontrollable variables worked against them. It seems only fitting that our new LEED gold-designed building fosters an initiative that is in keeping with environmentally friendly practices. The idea of indoor growing is not only appealing for gaining access to year-round healthy greens in harsh climates, they are also free of pesticides, and the process eliminates the production of carbon emissions generated by cargo transport.
Jamarya was inspired to grow this garden by her grandmother, who has been an avid, lifelong grower. The ultimate goal will be to grow fruits and lettuces at varying stages of maturity to provide nutritious options to local food banks over the course of the school year. This can be achieved by purchasing a vertical LED system to support wall gardens, thereby creating higher yield. Jamarya has also been awarded one of the Portsmouth Abbey School Haney Fellowships for summer 2019 when she will create, teach, build and plant a garden with children at Child and Family Services in Newport, RI.
We would be delighted to offer you a personal tour of this space. Please visit www.portsmouthabbeyscience.org for contact information.