Students in the Program for Exceptionally Gifted Students (PEGS) at Rose Acres won a $10,000 grant in 2020 to purchase three hydroponic towers and have now put the grant project into action. They wrote the grant to show students how to grow healthy foods and to provide the food to the community.
Two years ago, Aliyah Brown and Eva Pulley were in third grade and wrote the grant for the Super Health, Super You Challenge created by Novo Nordisk, a multinational pharmaceutical company devoted to defeating diabetes. What started off as just an assignment to learn about grant writing under teacher Robin Chang’s direction was named a winner in the contest and the students received the funding to purchase the hydroponic towers.
“Since we’re back in school full time now after COVID, we were able to purchase the towers and we put them all together so we could start growing stuff,” said Pulley, who is now in fifth grade.
At the moment, the students are growing cherry tomatoes, basil, kale, hot peppers, cilantro and romaine.
“We tried growing strawberries, but those went downhill,” Brown said. “What really worked was chia. It’s growing super fast and we have an entire tower of that.”
Last week, the students harvested cilantro from the towers and delivered it to the food services staff in the cafeteria. It was featured in the school’s lunch when lead cook Jane Key added it to a Mexican entree.
On Friday afternoon, Brown, Pulley and Samuel Guthrie, along with their families and teachers Chang and Tracey Robinson, donated about four gallons of chia leaves to Loaves and Fishes. The students talked about the benefits of chia leaves and the powerful antioxidant will be used in salads.
“Our plan is to give the food we grow to the school cafeteria and supply the backpack program with fresh fruits and vegetables,” Brown said. “We also want to give back to the community and donate whatever we can.”
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