Forest Hills School Aquaponics Greenhouse and Community Garden
Our vision is to create an off-the-grid aquaponics greenhouse, community garden and greenspace that includes a First Nations traditional medicine garden. This outdoor space will be used as a resource for our students as well as the East Saint John Food Bank. As a certified EcoSchool and member of UNESCO Associated Schools Network, our goal is to create a space that allows our students to actively learn about the importance of green energy, food security, global citizenship and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
We are in the initial planning stages of a community-based project that will develop into a community garden, traditional First Nations medicine garden and off-the-grid, fully sustaining aquaponics greenhouse. This initiative focuses on experiential learning and will offer students authentic community-based experiences that have a minimal impact on our environment. Our grade 6 classes have studied the positive environmental benefits of vermicomposting and, with the help of community partner Maritime Worm, they have created vermicomposting bins in each of their classrooms. These classes have been introduced to the benefits of the hydroponic growing method. In each classroom, they have a Click & Grow Smart Garden and have successfully grown a variety of herbs, vegetables and fruit. We have an aquaponics prototype set up in our tech lab – a method that relies on hydroponics and fish waste to fertilize the plants. Students are actively involved in the maintenance and upkeep of our plants and fish. They monitor fish and plant growth as well as pH levels within the system and adjust accordingly. The next step in our action plan is to begin construction of raised garden beds in preparation for the spring. We have partnered with the East Saint John Food Bank and will be donating the produce harvested to them. Students will transplant items grown in the Smart Gardens to the garden beds and will also be using our vermicompost as fertilizer. Our aquaponics greenhouse will be off-the-grid and winterized to ensure its use throughout the entire school year. Through the aquaponics system, students will be growing up to four times the amount of food that traditional gardening methods would yield. We want our students to be able to witness the life cycle of plant and wild life from seed to harvest. They will explore the benefits of growing produce locally by having access to an area where they will learn about holistic well-being as well as the benefits of giving back to our local community by means of donations to the food bank. Students will also build upon their knowledge and understanding of the purpose and use of each traditional First Nations medicine that will be grown within our greenspace.