The prosperous agricultural class
May 26 – GROVE CITY – Part of Grove City High School comes to life with plants, fish and lessons in sustainability.
Hidden down a hallway is an old storage room that houses the community farming class’s first project: Growing Food with Hydroponics and Aquaponics.
“I’m just happy to have him,” said junior Luke Tubbs, 17.
The new course, which is optional, is taught by science teacher Will Logan and completes its first semester.
Logan loves gardening is thrilled to be able to offer the class. He bought some of the materials and received a grant.
The inaugural class has eight students, and most of them were unfamiliar with hydroponics and aquaponics at first.
“I was confused but also intrigued,” Luke said of the setup.
Hydroponics uses water and nutrients to grow plants instead of placing them in the ground, said Lillian Panazzi, 17.
Aquaponics adds fish to the process and you have more control over what goes on in the plants, Logan said.
The class has 55 White Nile tilapia in a 300 gallon tank that is connected to the tubs where the plants thrive under multiple grow lights.
Fish waste acts like a fertilizer, and it’s a good example of sustainable gardening, Logan said.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, and kale are growing steadily.
The students also tried out the Kratky Method, also known as the “Bucket Method,” of hydroponics at home – the same concept on a smaller scale.
“They got out of hand,” laughed 18-year-old Eva King of the lettuce she grew at home.
She appreciates the effort Logan put into the classroom, which she says has been fun.
Senior Chloe Lenkner, 18, said her younger brother was excited to follow the class during the 2021-2022 school year.
“I think it’s really neat,” she says, adding that the system can also be used to grow flowers and herbs.
Ashleigh Frost, 18, said the basil she grew at home had ‘exploded’ and she was trying to figure out how to use it.
Senior Serenity Dailey, 17, said she really enjoyed the class, especially since it was very hands-on and she shared information with her family.
Logan will take care of the plants during the summer as well as the pollinator garden and raised beds that the class started just outside the hydroponics room.
He hopes to add more windows to the room, expand the system, install rain barrels outside, organize field trips and guest speakers, and work towards making the school eco-certified.
“And we talked about raising maybe a few chickens,” he says.
The fish can be eaten and he is interested in selling the class’s vegetable starters and flower caps as a fundraiser and donating some of the produce to the cafeteria for school meals.
The curriculum for the next school year says the class will also study topics such as plant anatomy, composting, cloning, insects, and other growing methods.