Hydro Heroes & Cooking Club!


This year, we used the Learning for Sustainable Futures Grant and Whole Kids Foundation Garden Grant to fund the addition of a Vireo Education Hydroponics System. Our ECO Club at James Morden Public School has always valued taking action towards climate change and learning about new agricultural practices. Our old hydroponics system was shut down for reasons out of our control so we had to find an alternate solution to keep growing indoors. Using our new Vireo Education Hydroponics system and kitchen tools, students learned how to prepare sustainable and healthy salad bars as well as new food preservation techniques (dehydrating).


To start our action, students in the Grade 6/7 class and the ECO Club used the Vireo Education learning platform to access many modules and tracking resources to extend their learning related to hydroponics. Through this platform, students were able to engage in many learning modules about food justice, climate change, soilless agriculture, monoculture, plant life cycle, and so much more. Students learned about the impact hydroponics systems have to improve agriculture in areas most impacted by Climate Change. As well, students learned about the impact of growing locally and how hydroponics systems can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by importing and exporting produce. Students further learned fun and engaging ways to cook and practice a healthy lifestyle through their “design a soup” challenge. Our hydroponics produce was often used in our soup recipes such as bok choy or parsley. Our ECO Club was also responsible for preparing and hosting salad bar days where they would harvest the hydroponics leafy greens and herbs to prepare for students in our school. Salad Days were always a hit among students, and we never had leftovers!

As part of the weekly maintenance, students in our ECO Schools Club and Grade 6/7 class formed the Hydro Heroes team! They learned about the components in a hydroponics system and maintained the Vireo Hydroponics by using the Vireo Education Weekly Maintenance schedule in the portal. Then, as students learned the job, they would mentor new students over the course of the year so that more and more students would learn how to use the system. The job required students to learn how to measure the water level, add nutrient solutions, check nutrients with EC Meters, add PH, and check PH levels with the PH meter. Students were also responsible for germination, planting, harvesting, preparing/preserving, and cleaning out the system.

Over the course of the school year, we grew a variety of plants including: Lettuce Bok Choy, Parsley, Swiss Chard, Cherry Tomatoes, Kale, and Chives. Students used the hydroponics produce in many healthy recipes and further learned how to preserve herbs for future use. A large portion of the LSF Grant was used to purchase a dehydrator for our Cooking Club at James Morden School. Some of our recipes included miso soup with hydroponics bok choy, butternut squash soup with hydroponics parsley, and pesto pasta with hydroponics roasted cherry tomatoes. As mentioned, we also used our hydroponics produce to host 3 Salad Days throughout the school year! Using the dehydrator, students further learned how to preserve the parsley and chives grown in the hydroponics system as well as fresh sage from our outdoor edible garden. We plan to use these herbs in future recipes with the JAM Cooking Club! Some of the LSF Grant was also used to purchase supplies for our Cooking Club including ingredients and compostable plates/cutlery.

Reflection & Celebration

Overall, the impact of the LSF Grant not only supported the purchase of our large Vireo Education Hydroponics system, which can grow 99 plants at a time, but it further supported the launch of our JAM Cooking Club and ECO Club initiatives. In total, we grew around 20 kg of leafy greens, herbs, and cherry tomatoes throughout the school year. We often celebrated our accomplishments by sitting together to enjoy and reflect on how tasty our salads, soups, or other creations were! It provided a great opportunity to build community when we were seated together and enjoying the fruits of our labor!

1. No Poverty
2. Zero Hunger
3. Good Health and Well-Being
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
13. Climate Action
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