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Rupley Students Test Green Thumbs with Tower Garden Project

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Students in the Education, Life, and Skills (ELS) Program at Rupley Elementary are experiencing a new form of growth. They may not be getting down in the dirt, but there is some fresh foliage in a vibrant new display in their classroom. 

Nestled in the corner of Ms. Linda Caruso’s room is a Tower Garden, a vertical hub complete with LED lights and a timed water pump system that has the capacity to grow multiple types of vegetation at once. Ms. Caruso discovered the system in her own quest for a personal healthy diet, and saw the potential for it to be a fun addition to her lessons. 

“I was inspired to show others how they can incorporate more whole food into their diet,” she said. “I also felt it was a strong teaching tool on so many levels, so I decided to write up a proposal to acquire the Tower Garden for my classroom.”

The process began over a month ago with students planting arugula, lettuce, kale, and basil seeds in a separate growing container. From there, they transferred the seedlings to the Tower Garden once they reached a certain size, and have continued providing nutrients to the crops. 

“I started with the basics by teaching the lifecycle of a plant so students can understand how a seed turns into a beautiful, healthy plant,” Ms. Caruso said. “They learned how to germinate and how a seed becomes a seedling. They’re now seeing firsthand how a seed grows after planting their own.”  

Part of the lesson also includes the difference between traditional outdoor gardens and the system the students are using. This helps connect to what plants need to grow and flourish in different environments. 

“I want to teach them where their food comes from, healthy eating, and the benefits of growing their own food. I am hoping that students will also learn the responsibility of taking care of a garden and how to inspire others to eat healthier.”

Ms. Caruso also hopes to expand the lesson with general education student involvement and inclusion opportunities. For now, she and her students are taking pleasure in watching their new project spring to life.

“They love to check on the garden every morning and even speak to it with positive comments to encourage growth. It is amazing to watch how excited the students get when they see how the plants have grown.”

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