Reed City High School has something special other schools would benefit from. Two years ago members of the Science department put together the Growing Dome Project. This hands on learning facility offers high school students a fantastic opportunity to grow their own food and learn about different methods of growing fruit, vegetables and even tropical plants in northern Michigan.

I've had the opportunity to visit the dome a few times, and it's always a treat to see what the kids currently have growing. Today the dome was full of several varieties of lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots, hot peppers, a few onions and herbs. The strawberry plants looked very healthy and the lemon tree in the center of the dome had lemons on it.

The dome is a 51' diameter geodesic kit the high school students put together in a month. All of the materials used to put together the aquaponic, hydroponic and vermiculture stations came from hardware stores, lumber yards and gardening centers. The aquaponic system consists of two grow beds suspended over a large water tank filled with perch. The fish castings in the water provide nutrients for the plants. The water is filtered back into the fish tank after watering the plants. The amazing thing is the water in the fish tank is crystal clear.

The two hydroponic towers also have tanks with fish. During my recent visit they were growing lettuce and spinach. The lettuce looked gorgeous! It was hard to resist tearing off a leaf and eating it right there. Along with the fish tanks, the hydroponic system benefits from a regular boost of worm tea made on site. In the summer the hydroponic towers produced 800 pounds of tomatoes.

The Science students maintain an excellent vermicomposting system that produces worm castings or worm tea which is a highly concentrated, potent fertilizer. The four tubs contain worms, some base material and vegetable kitchen scraps that the worms feed on. Their waste becomes vermicompost or worm tea. I have a book written by the late Mary Appelhof who dedicated her life to educating people about the benefits of vermicomposting. Her organization Flowerfield Press still operates in Kalamazoo.

Reed City High School is very fortunate to have these dedicated professionals working in their school system. With their willingness to provide such an excellent hands on educational program for their public school it's important we support these schools and the students who benefit from them. Students learn much more seeing an ecosystem thrive before their eyes instead of merely reading about it in a textbook. Public education works, and it's important to keep our schools well resourced and under local jurisdiction so they can continue to provide excellent learning experiences like the Growing Dome at Reed City High School.  

Images used in this blog were rehosted from the RCAPS Growing Dome website. I own nothing.

  • November 22, 2012
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