A new form of gardening hits Hermosa Elementary and Middle School

The Early evening news on KOTA Territory TV
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 7:22 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Running water has become a common sound in Todd Gregson’s classroom where he teaches students about hydroponic gardening. The class started putting together the garden in April, and it helped transform the normal-looking courtyard of the school into a tranquil area for students to enjoy.

“It’s a great place for kids to come out and read, they have benches and chairs out here that have been donated. So, it goes beyond just being a garden, it’s a place for kids to learn,” said the principal of Hermosa Elementary and Middle School, Frosty Paris.

Apart from having a unique-looking garden at school, the end goal is for students to learn how to garden for themselves at home.

“The students, a lot of them don’t have any idea of what it takes to grow… from farm to table and so I’m trying to give them that experience,” said Hermosa Elementary and Middle School paraprofessional Todd Gregson.

What is hydroponic gardening?

According to Gregson, hydroponic gardening is growing plants in nutrient-rich solution without any soil. This means that it’s usually water-based. Hydroponic gardens can grow plants year-round.

According to The Spruce, this makes hydroponics better than soil in certain ways:

  • Plants have a higher yield
  • Actually uses less water than conventional gardening because water doesn’t have to travel through the soil
  • Weeds are not an issue
  • Plants can be grown just about anywhere

But with advantages come certain disadvantages:

  • Can be expensive to build
  • Requires regular monitoring in order to make sure the system is functioning properly
  • Plants are more susceptible to waterborne diseases
  • Roots are vulnerable without soil

Student experience with the hydroponic garden

Along with planting, the kids not only learned how to harvest their crops, but they learned how to use them by making different types of jams with crops grown.

“Anytime we can give kids a hands-on experience, it’s something that they’re going to remember the rest of their life,” said Gregson.

Gregson’s co-teacher, who also started the journey with the kids in April, added that it’s a wonderful experience watching the students grow as the class continues.

“It’s like a metaphor, you start with a little seed, and then it grows into this big, beautiful thing and that’s kind of like them. I mean, it’s already week four and they know so much already,” said a teacher of Hermosa Elementary and Middle School Bre McMahon.

The hydroponic garden is planned to move indoors for the last half of the fall season and the start of the winter seaso