Grow-It to Go is a project teaching children in South Fayette Township School District and Fort Cherry School District about sustainable food production through a series of hands-on exercises. Students have become scientists by spending a year researching, investigating, comparing, and contrasting two different types of growing systems: indoor hydroponic gardens and outdoor, soil-based, sustainable gardens. The program targets kids grades K-4 and provides different curriculums based on the age of the participants. For instance, while first graders s create simple handcrafted systems to enable their understanding of hydroponics and soil-based growth, students in third and fourth grade are investigating plant growth and development using hydroponic tables.
“Grow-It to Go raises awareness of environmental sustainability and the responsibility we all have, no matter what age, to care for our health, community, and ecosystem. Keeping our children healthy is the fundamental goal for every parent and educator.” -Aileen Owens M.Ed.
The project culminates in the spring with third and fourth graders building their first sustainable garden in raised garden beds at South Fayette and a working farm at Fort Cherry. Students divided into teams and together developed different garden designs based on criteria that included yield and variety of fresh produce. The produce grown by the kids will be used by the school cafeteria to help provide fresh, healthy meals for the entire school. A representative from Grow Pittsburgh will help the kids choose the winning design.
Grow-It to Go will also incorporated art and technology into the garden project by partnering with artist Dana Bishop-Root to help the children create colored ceramic tiles. The tiles will be found throughout the garden both as decoration and highlighting QR codes that enable visitors to experience students’ art, poetry, and other media projects inspired by their studies in agriculture and sustainability.
Grow-It to Go, a project of South Fayette School District, is an educational outreach program and design challenge that encourages young learners to think about sustainable food production systems. The program presents a series of hands-on investigative learning activities to engage K-4 students in comparing two different types of growing systems: indoor hydroponic gardens and outdoor soil-based sustainable gardens. This program is put to use via inter-disciplinary curricula by teachers from the South Fayette Township and Fort Cherry School Districts, helping students explore plant growth, development and ecosystem activities as they also receive professional development support themselves.