Gaithersburg Middle School received a Lowes Toolbox for Education Grant for $2000 to build several hydroponic units. The units are housed in 1 of the 3 school greenhouses which were not being utilized. These units will serve two purposes. The first will be to provide several of our student’s families in need with fresh, free produce. The second will be to provide our 7th grade students with an opportunity to work with functioning larger scale hydroponics systems in coordination with their first quarter science unit.
Poolesville High School senior Ava Chrisler conducted much of the research and construction of the units for her senior project. Three different types of systems were built. Nutrient Film Technique systems will be used to grow lettuces, strawberries, and herbs and can house 112 plants. The Ebb and Flow systems will be used to grow cucumbers and peppers while the raft systems, which can grow 60 plants, will be used to grow lettuces and herbs. Our first crop from only 11 plants, provided 5 families with fresh lettuce with more ready to harvest before the end of April. Next year the systems will be maintained by a volunteer group of students. A grant for next year will be pursued in order to expand the project to a second greenhouse.