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Episode 79: Students Growing with Classroom Garden

Students in Julie Feyereisen’s 3rd grade classroom are growing in a very healthy way this school year. It’s thanks, in part to something called a Tower Garden in the classroom. The Tower Garden is a 6-foot pillar which uses grow lights and aeroponic technology to grow plants indoors using water and no soil.

On this episode of the Supercast we head inside Ms. Feyereisen’s classroom to see the Tower Garden. There we celebrate a successful harvest and taste some of the healthy produce students planted as part of their lesson in sustainable gardening.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey.  Students in Julie Feyereisen's third grade classroom are growing in a very healthy way this school year. It's thanks in part to something called the tower garden in the classroom. The tower garden is a six foot pillar which this aeroponic technology to grow plants indoors using water and no soil. On this episode of the Supercast, we head inside Ms. Feyereisen's classroom to see the tower garden. There we celebrate a successful harvest and taste some of the healthy produce students planted as part of their lesson on sustainable garden. Let's start by visiting with some students.

Teacher:
So would you like some carrots by themselves?

Anthony Godfrey:
What is your name?

Student:
Hattie

Anthony Godfrey:
So you've got your high. You're next at the table here. Do you know what you want to put on your salad?

Student:
Olives.

Anthony Godfrey:
I put olives on my pizza. You put it on your salad. What do you like on your pizza? Cheese? We're talking about salad, not pizza, so I shouldn't go down that road. All right. Did you grow some of these?

Student:
Lettuce.

Anthony Godfrey:
There are Apple bits. Do you normally put apples on your salad? What do you have your eye?

Students:
The tomatoes.

Anthony Godfrey:
They look good.

Student:
I brought them.

Anthony Godfrey:
Did you? ?o were you each assigned to different salad ingredients?

Student:
No, you could just bring whatever you wanted.

Anthony Godrey:
Oh, I see.

Student:
Or you didn't have to bring anything if you didn't want to.

Teacher:
What else would you like?

Anthony Godfrey:
You got some sugar snap peas there. Three varieties of carrots, several varieties of carrots It looks like.

Teacher:
Okay, there you go.

Anthony Godfrey:
So were the kids assigned to bring something?

Teacher:
They just brought their favorite salad topping.

Anthony Godfrey:
Favorite salad topping.

Teacher:
It's always interesting to see what they brought.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah.

Teacher:
Like, oh yes, I tried this, the Asian Sesame and some brought dressing. They just kind of brought a variety of things and it worked out.

Anthony Godfrey:
What is your name?

Student:
Hayley.

Anthony Godfrey:
I see from your shirt that you believe in unicorns. Do you also believe in salads? You eat salads at home?

Student:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me what you've decided to put on your salad.

Student:
I decided to put some carrots, cucumbers and apples.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. And what type of lettuce has this? Did you grow this yourself?

Student:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Does make it look better to you to eat since you grew it?

Student:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do you normally grow vegetables at your house?

Student:
No.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you got to do something in class you've never done before.

Student:
I did.

Anthony Godfrey:
I see that you have chosen to eat your olives.

Student:
Yeah. I chose that because I like olives.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. So I saw you put your salad together. Put the olives on top, came to your desk and went right for the olives. And now the rest of the salads on its own. I saw you like croutons too. I was talking to a classmate of yours and they're not a big fan. You like them though.

Student:
I like to eat plan just straight out of the bag, because then they feel taste fresh.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a good idea. Do you put any dressing into the bag or just straight up?

Student:
Just straight out.

Anthony Godfrey:
Did you grow the lettuce?

Student:
I grew the kale.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, you drew the kale. And you told me your sister's name is Kale?

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Is she named after the vegetable or is the vegetable named after her?

Student:
The vegetable was named after her.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, that's a nice honor for her. Is it good? Is it kind of bitter or did it taste yummy?

Student:
Yummy.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. I'm going to try the kale. I don't eat a lot of kale, but you've convinced me. That looks like quite a salad. Does it tastes pretty good? You look like someone who's eaten a salad before.

Student:
Yeah, I have.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you love salad? What type of a dressing do you normally prefer?

Student:
Italian, but there wasn't any.

Anthony Godfrey:
So did you go with the Ranch, it looks like?

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Have you ever tried green goddess?

Student:
No.

Anthony Godfrey:
The go for it. If only for the name you should try it. Green Goddess dressing if you're a salad fan. Okay. So talk me through your salad here. What have you got on here?

Student:
I have apples, lettuce, peas, tomatoes, carrots, croutons, avocado, and um.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's so much it's hard to keep track of. You really put together a nice salad.

Student:
And then cucumbers.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's a very good variety for someone your age. I know lots of kids in third grade who would eat fewer vegetables rather than more, so that's really good work.

Student:
Now, if we had any pickles, I'd go for the pickles.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, I love pickles. Do you put pickles on a salad?

Student:
No.

Anthony Godfrey:
Just on the side.

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love a good pickle. Do you eat like a big whole pickle or slices or what?

Student:
Well, my dad normally makes pickles.

Anthony Godfrey:
He makes them? Oh, wow. No wonder you like them. Homemade pickles.

Student:
Well, we have like, I don't know how much in each jar, but maybe like 20 in each jar.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh wow, that's awesome.

Student:
We have circle ones. We have like slice ones. We have a lot of them. And then we have a lot of salsa. We have a lot of jam.

Anthony Godfrey:
So it sounds like you guys grow alot.

Student:
Oh yeah. We have a big yard. We grow a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. That's very impressive. Well, when you grow them, you tend to appreciate them and like eating them,I guess.

Student:
My brother is in class with me.  He is my twin. He's right here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, your brother is in class with you? Your twin? Oh, and you know what, he's not back at his desk yet. He's probably piling his plate high with a wide variety of vegetables, just like you did. That is impressive work I have to say. That's really awesome. And I keep interrupting your salad so you don't even have a chance to eat it. Oh, and you've got some good croutons. Do you guys grow croutons at home?

Student:
No, but we make them.

Anthony Godfrey:
You do make them, really? Wow. Do you make the bread that they come from or do you buy the bread?

Student:
My mom makes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh my gosh. You make the bread and then you make the croutons to put on all the stuff you've grown. Megan, you are quite impressive as is your family. It's very nice talking with you. Did you grow this lettuce here?

Student:
Well I did get this. I think this is my lettuce. Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's the light green light. Where is it on the tower there? I'd like to try some Megan lettuce.

Student:
On the back.

Anthony Godfrey:
All right. I'll give it a try. I'll let you get back to your salad.

Student:
Okay.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you, Megan. Okay. I'm going to try my salad here. This is as fresh as a salad gets. I picked it right off of the tower. Oh my goodness. It is very tender. Crisp. It tastes great.

Teacher:
Good!

Anthony Godfrey:
Yes. Stay with us. When we come back, Ms. Feyereisen talks about how she has incorporated the tower garden into all her lessons and why students love it.

Break:
It is one of the most prestigious academic achievement programs available for high school students. And we're proud to say it's coming back to Jordan School District. We're talking about the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, which will be located at West Jordan High School. The IB Program supports personal and academic achievement for students at the very highest level. IB diploma courses take place during a student's junior and senior year in high school. All sophomores are invited to consider the IB program for next year. There are no pre-requisites for IB and interested middle school students can start preparing now. Students with the IB diploma have a better at getting into some of the most prestigious universities in the world. For more information, or to find out if your teen is a good candidate for IB, visit http://ib.jordandistrict.org.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm here with Julie Feyereisen third grade teacher at Monte Vista Elementary, who has had kids growing the elements of a salad on a tower garden, and it is really stunning when you walk in. It's obvious learning is happening constantly in this classroom and this is just one element of learning. And it's a delicious element. I'm eating a salad that was prepared by the kids. A salad picked right off of the tower that they grew. It's fantastic. Tell me about this project and what made you want to start this and what it's been like for the kids?

Teacher:
Oh, good question. By the way. Thank you for coming.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you. My pleasure.

Teacher:
I am a firm believer in active learning and also in the mind-body connection and that what we feed our bodies affects how we learn and what we just move forward in our daily lives. So when the kids see things growing, they see green things growing, where things are actually how they're supposed to look and the color that is living. And it just makes such a difference when they can actually see it happening and then put it into their bodies and see the correlation between the mind and the body and knowing that that's what makes such a difference. Like we move a lot in my classroom, we do a lot of active learning, but it's also like what goes into help them, their minds really take in all of their learning

Anthony Godfrey:
When they grow something that they have probably just expected to have placed on their table previously, Do you think it changes their perspective about the world around them and where food comes from, and how hard people have to work to provide everything that they have?

Teacher:
Absolutely. Yes, it does create a different perspective. I've had students who do not eat salads, do not eat green things, actually eat things off of the tower garden because they have been in that process. They've partnered with that process of growing something and knowing that they're eating that they grew. So yes. And yes, seeing what it does do have a difference of where they actually get their food. I mean, they just grew something and they just ate it and it makes me so happy to see so many kids eating a salad.

Anthony Godfrey:
I talked to a number of kids in line waiting for their salad. They don't normally eat salad, but they were piling their plate high. And not only that, but it gives them the sense efficacy. I put in effort, I'm patient. I do what I know works, and I feel the sense of accomplishment. There's a connection between my effort and results.

Teacher:
And they'll eat it. I've had parents actually thank me saying now my child eats more vegetables because they have had experience with it. So they have experienced growing their own vegetables and eating them straight from the tower, just fresh.

Anthony Godfrey:
Describe that tower for those who are listening. It's a white tower. There are spots where you can grow plants from. And is it aeroponic, is that right?

Teacher:
It is. It's aeroponic. It's a tower garden that does not need soil, it doesn't need need ground. It just needs a vertical space. And so it's an aeroponic vertical growing garden. And so the students. about five weeks ago, that's the cool thing about five weeks ago, they planted, and now that that's what they have. And there are different slots where you can put everything. Se grew basil. We grew thyme and we grew three different types of lettuces. We grew kale, we grew chard. And I even saw some students had kale and chard on their plate.

Anthony Godfrey:
I did see kids with that. Having kale on your plate in third grade is an accomplishment all its own.

Teacher:
Yeah, I know it was. Oh, it just makes me happy. I love it.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm sorry to be eating and talking at the same time, but I cannot resist this tender, crisp lettuce. It really is delicious. So it's also lit up their lights. Those lights stay on 24/7?

Teacher:
No, they stay on for about 14 hours a day. They're on a timer and their water is also on a timer. So there's a base for the tower garden that you fill up with water and you put the tower tonic in for the nutrients for the plants. So there's a pump at the bottom of the base for the water and it actually just pulled the water up and then rains the water down on the roots. So if we were to pull some of those plants out, we just pull for a long time and see these roots, just come out of this tower garden, because they've been, they've been growing for so long and it's really neat to see how, how they've grown and that's how it works.

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the things that kids learn from this experiment?

Teacher:
We do math and of course it's science. And we also do a lot of writing with it. So they have been tracking their plant and measuring their plant. It was planted as a seedling and then they've also been writing about it. And it's just neat for them to see this transformation that has happened using all of that curriculum, all of those different pieces, bringing it into one thing and also help of course, with their bodies and their minds. So it's really an all-inclusive experience or for them. And it's been fun.

Anthony Godfrey:
There are so many layers to it, so much to learn and great connections that you're able to make through this activity. I can't tell you how impressed I was that these kids. obviously. are super engaged. They're loving it. And it was a great salad on top of that. So keep up the great work. I love the experience you're giving these kids. I'm sure that they're going to say many years from now, remember Ms. Feyereisen and how we grew lettuce and salads. And that's why I'm here at the Sizzler Salad Bar today.

Teacher:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you so much for your time. It's really been nice getting to know you and your class and enjoy the rest of the year.

Teacher:
Thank you so much. I appreciate it. What a treat for you to come. Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us. On another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing that you will do today. We'll see out there.

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