Three days a week, Long Beach Island Elementary School in Ship Bottom offers a personalized enrichment program – PEP – for students. Peter Kopack, superintendent of the LBI Consolidated School District and principal of the LBI school, said the program “is like an elective class, where students have the choice to choose something that interests them. These classes engage in alternative and authentic learning experiences.
One of the courses that young people can take through the PEP concerns hydroponic gardening. In this course, instructors Lauren Rothstein and Kelly Scotto Di Carlo focus “on how to grow your own food sustainably,” Kopack explained. “A lot of students have experience with traditional gardening, but it goes a step further because hydroponics doesn’t require soil to grow the plants – just water, nutrients and sunlight. .”
Students in the hydroponic gardening course experience the entire growing process and, in addition, have the opportunity “to see the transition from growing to harvesting to eating,” the superintendent pointed out.
“So far, the class has used the garden to make and share lots of samples of smoothies, pesto, kale chips and salad with their classmates.”
Thanks to a generous donation from Rotary Club LBI, LBI Elementary School now has a second hydroponic vertical garden and plenty of supplies, so students can continue to explore their newfound interest.
On March 10, members of the Rotary Club visited students in the hydroponics course during the school day to donate items such as salad dressing, cheese, bags and bowls. And, Kopack said, “LBI students got to show their new garden up close and explain how hydroponic gardening works.” —JK-H.