Hydroponics: Harnessing the Power of Water

You rush up to the third floor of the Annex, practically sprinting up the stairs to pass by all the other students around you. Once you arrive, a colorful door with various signs catches your eye, and one of them says “Franny Lew Farm.” Franny Lew Farm? You ask yourself. You are filled with curiosity, intrigued by this door, and can’t resist walking in. As you open the door, you are hit in the face with a strong, pungent smell of greenery. The room is filled with plants grown in peculiar pipe structures and animals scattered around the room, with students bustling around doing various tasks. You suddenly realize that you are at the very top of the annex, in the Greenhouse.

“Once we knew that we had the funding to make a greenhouse, it seemed like an obvious choice, to seize that opportunity,” Science teacher Dr. Cohen said. “We knew it would be able to help us expand our research, and to add this additional program, because the greenhouse grows plants to help provide for the culinary program.”

There are varieties of hydroponic systems in the greenhouse that help grow plants to their best abilities. 

“We have a few (hydroponic) systems that are really meant for things like leafy greens, herbs, plants that don’t really get very tall,” Dr. Cohen said. “And so, those systems, we’re using a pump and gravity. Basically, the water gets pumped up to the plants and the water contains all the nutrients the plants would need. And so, the water flows up to the plants, gravity brings it back down to the reservoirs, and it cycles, so this way there’s no wasted water.”

 Dr. Cohen also claimed that the use of hydroponics benefits the plants and “tend to do really well in these systems because the nutrient content is measured specifically for the plants grown.”

Dr. Cohen started it as a learning experience,” hydroponics teacher Mr. Schwartz said, “a way to learn how to do and use hydroponics. So now, we have this greenhouse, and we’re raising vegetables, both for sale and for the culinary program.”

Mr. Schwartz also stated that “the greenhouse just opened in September” and that it has been used by many students to learn the process of hydroponics.

“It’s a lot warmer,” junior Nico Lin said. “You have to keep it climate controlled because there are plants that are growing there.”

When asked, Lin was happy to share his honest opinion on his experiences with hydroponics. 

“I do genuinely enjoy hydroponics,” Lin said.  “I do like plants. I genuinely enjoy working with hydroponics, which is the main reason why I continued going to the club afterwards.”