I felt the need to blog about Tuesday's activities because the students seemed to particularly enjoy them. My fellow counselors and I have received nothing but positive feedback regarding Tuesday's topics, as is the case with just about the entire SoSC curriculum!
We first discussed the concepts of urban farming, companion planting, and mono-culture. We learned about the advantages and disadvantages of each, watched a few short videos, and discussed possible solutions to farming in the confined space of an urban environment. Personally, I think Tuesday's discussions were among the most successful and engaging thus far; the kids, all actively participating, seemed to agree!
The students built their own vertical growing systems today called window farms. They planted zinnia, daisy, and sunflower seeds. The system is arranged vertically so that only the top planter is watered. The excess water from the top planter can trickle down to the soil in the planters below. Water and nutrients that are not absorbed collect in a reservoir below and will be pumped through again at the next interval. This reinforces the concepts of both water conservation and plant nutrition.
|Howard (left) and I (right) assist Eon, Mekhgi, and Andrew as they use a cheesecloth and funnel to remove solid particles from the organic pesticide they made from onions, garlic, and red hot chili.|
In order to combat harmful pests such as slugs, bugs, mites, and worms, the students made several different natural pesticides. They learned about the differences between organic and chemical pesticides, including the immense environmental and health benefits of using all-natural ingredients. Despite the smell of onions and garlic, the students enjoyed "getting their hands dirty" to make salt water, soap water, and "hot and spicy" natural pesticides.
Now, we are all patiently waiting for the seeds to germinate! This week's lessons thus far will transition nicely into our very first field trip. Today we are going to Added Value, an agricultural facility right here in Brooklyn. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us!