Suffield students in Amy Norris’s Honors Environmental Science class began putting hydroponics into practice this spring. Hydroponics is a modern method of growing plants without soil, an increasingly important process given growing land constraints and various environmental factors. The class started this project on April 9 and spent five weeks growing kale, basil, spinach, lettuce, and cilantro. One student even tried cucumbers, though this was one of the trials that did not result in any growth. The class has grown enough crops for a small harvest this year, which will occur on May 14, and the final part of this experiment asks them to reflect on aspects that were successful and unsuccessful in the process. The unit gave students hands-on experience and insight into commercial-level hydroponics. Ms. Norris said the students were excited about their work, took good care of the plants, tweaked what they had to increase the chances of success, and asked good questions.
Ms. Norris introduced the methodology into Environmental Science this year after learning about this unique growing method in an online class she took last fall. She wanted her students to be able to try it themselves, and next year she would like to expand on the unit by helping students figure out how the plants can grow over spring break to yield a bigger harvest. Her ultimate goal is to be able to invite the Suffield community to taste what the class grows at the end of the unit.