The Tower Garden has many applications within school curriculums.
The most well-known program is in the Bronx New York Public Schools where Stephen Ritz utilized the Tower Garden to motivate children and the community to grow their own food. More importantly, programs to develop the critical understanding and the hands-on experience of the connection between good nutrition and health.
Currently, Tower Gardens are being used in a variety of school settings. This eco-friendly system has application as a teaching tool to reach curriculum goals in the following areas: human nutrition, ecology, environmental studies, biology, and building community.
Day care centers
The Tower Garden has become an integral part of the food source awareness programs and basic knowledge of plants in many Day Care settings. Food that is produced is integrated into the day care lunch and snack menu, so the children are receiving fresh produce in their meals. Lessons plans, and curriculum guidance is available from Seton Hall University.
Elementary Schools and High Schools
Listed below are just a few of the curriculum applications for the Tower Garden:
Basic health and nutrition
Promotes the development of basic human health and wellness concepts. Creating the connection and importance between good nutrition and long term sustainable health.
Curriculums that address environmental and sustainable food supplies is important in today’s economy. These programs that address global and local, food sourcing and production can benefit from the hands-on experience of the Tower Gardens. Schools that have GREEN programs can also benefit from using the Tower Garden as an integral part of the curriculum.
Science and Biology
Develop the basic understanding of plant biology and plant development. Students can document the growth progress of plants and yields as they develop. Curriculum is available from Seton Hall University K-7 with lesson plans.
Community Service Programs
Develop an understanding of the community’s needs and providing solutions. Schools that involve students in community outreach and volunteer programs can leverage the Tower Garden to produce food to give to those in need. Tower Garden grown produce is used to donate to local food banks and charitable organizations.
School Lunch Programs
School cafeteria menus include produce grown in the school. The food services manager collaborates with faculty to develop recipes featuring healthy food choices; salads, smoothies and snacks made from the Tower Garden produce.
Culinary Arts Programs
As the fundamentals of food chemistry, food safety and menu development are critical elements in a program designed to prepare food services personnel. The Tower Garden can be a catalyst for the beginning Chef. Farm to table restaurants are becoming an important part of the locavore movement.
Special Needs Programs
The unique vertical growing Tower allows a class to experience growing first hand. Many physically challenged students can have access to the Tower Garden with special mobility devices and wheel chairs. Students with behavioural and sensory challenges can benefit from the firsthand experience of growing food in the classroom.
Students that serve on Student Councils and Peer Counselling programs have used the Tower Gardens to enhance the “break room” environment. The soothing presence of the Tower Garden create a peaceful and therapeutic atmosphere of trust and respect. Student leaders can use the produce to share with family, community and friends.
Schools traditionally need to raise funds for trips, special events or equipment. Tower Garden produce grown in the school can be sold to raise funds. Since the yield is available throughout the school year, this can be an on-going source of funds for the students and schools.