Learning by Growing at PS 333

Earlier last week, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer presided over the official opening of the Sun Works Center for Environmental Studies, a hydroponic greenhouse on top of PS 333 the Manhattan School for Children. According to a recent post in the New York Times City Room, the project is the brain child of two parents at the school, who were inspired to create a hydroponic rooftop garden after visiting the Science Barge. Currently housed in Yonkers by Groundwork Hudson Valley, the barge was originally conceived of and built by New York Sun Works (which also worked on the PS 333 greenhouse) as a prototype sustainable urban farm. It is a primarily a hydroponic operation that uses renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

That same concept has been applied by New York Sun Works, BrightFarms Systems (also an original collaborator on the Science Barge) and PS 333 parents to the Sun Works Center, with financial support coming from City Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer and the Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. However, despite its food-producing capacity, the greenhouse is first and foremost a learning laboratory for students. Sidsel Robards, one of the founding parents, was quoted in the City Room piece as saying: “it’s important to remember that it’s a science lab and we want the kids to be able to fail, too.”

Robard’s insight into using food as a learning tool reflects one of the greatest benefits that urban agriculture can provide to cities: education. It is unlikely that cities will ever be able to produce enough food to feed themselves, and the question remains as to whether or not this is even a desired goal. But for city dwellers- one of the benefits of urban agriculture can be the opportunities it provides residents to learn about the food system. Surrounded by concrete, it is easy to loose site of the seed to table process (forgetting about the “seed to” and focusing mainly on the “table”).  For urban dwellers young and old, it can be an eye-opening entry into the world of food. Integrating urban agriculture into New York City school curriculum through hands-on opportunities to grow food is a way of encouraging children to become curious- to start asking questions and finding answers- about the food that they eat (and sometimes play with) every day.

You can read more about the Sun Work Center for Environmental Studies at Food + Tech Connect and BrightFarm Systems.

Interview with the parent founders of the Sun Works Center for Environmental Studies about the importance of interactive science and food education courtesy of Danielle Gould of Food + Tech Connect:

Untitled from Food Tech Connect on Vimeo.

Image Courtesy of New York Sun Works



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