In the heart of New York City there is a public school with a very unusual story, and just the kind of inspirational message we love to share with our viewers. Led by Sidsel Robards & Manuela Zomora, the parents and educators at The Manhattan School for Children wanted to give their students a solid perspective of the environmental concerns that come from living in the city. They felt that by having a hands-on science experience in the areas of sustainability and conservation, they could make more educated environmental choices in the future. They decided that they wanted a science lab to do this while also connecting their city kids to nature.
They took this idea to New York Sun Works – a nonprofit known for their innovative environmental science programs. Sun Works helped the school develop a lab that would utilize urban farming as it’s main method of teaching and they built it in the only available space the school had – on the rooftop of the school building. The result was a 1400 square foot rooftop greenhouse with an emphasis on hydroponic and aquaponic growing systems. Here, students from K-8th grade, not only learn about the latest technology in urban agriculture, but how this all ties into the bigger picture of resource management, biodiversity, and even renewable energy sources and more.
This greenhouse project was so successful it has since developed into a citywide initiative with more science labs being built in public schools throughout the city. To date, 6 such labs have been installed with 11 more in the works around the city, with a goal of similar installations in 100 schools citywide. And these year-round urban farm labs are helping to create the next urban environmental stewards of the future, not only in New York City, but in cities around the world as word spreads about this highly successful and easy to replicate model.
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