Power of Tower Gardens

Project Title: Power of Tower Gardens

Project Lead’s Name: Nancy Parkinson

Email: parkinns@miamioh.edu

Phone: (765) 969-4236

Please Choose the Primary Affiliation: CEHS

Are There Other Project Team Members?: Yes

Other Project Team Member: Jennifer White

Other Team Member Email Address: whitejs@miamioh.edu

Other Project Team Member: Tracey McCudden

Other Team Member Email Address: mccuddta@miamioh.edu

Brief description of project: We would like to purchase four Tower Gardens for use in the Food Science lab in Phillips Hall and in three local elementary schools. Last year the Kinesiology and Health Department purchased two Tower Gardens for use in the labs and the educational benefits to Miami students have been tremendous. Growing fresh herbs and vegetables has been very successful over the past few semesters in the KNH 203 Nutrition in Disease Prevention course. Two other courses, KNH 453H- Nutrition Education Seminar and KNH 420G- Dietetic Field Experience focus on establishing nutrition education programs in the community. Miami faculty and students have been partnering with experiential learning projects with students from the Talawanda Schools for the past eight years on various nutrition education projects. The Tower Gardens provide an enriching educational experience for students to combine elements of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as they learn principles of Soil, Botany, Hydroponics, quantitative assessment, among others,--in a fun and meaningful way--as they grow their own food and herbs using new technology.

Does this project focus on graduate student education or graduate student life?: Yes

If yes, please explain: Graduate students in the new Dietetic Internship/Masters program in Kinesiology and Health will be able to participate in the Tower Garden program in the Food Science Lab in Phillips Hall and in the community nutrition education programs in the local elementary schools.

Tower Gardens are vertical systems that grow food hydroponically with aeroponics - a process for growing food in an air and water environment. Tower gardens allow people to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, and edible flowers indoors or out. A tower garden grows plants with only water and nutrients instead of dirt which results in nutritious harvests just weeks after planting. The plants in a tower garden are suspended in the air with their roots exposed to a watering system, the base of which holds about 20 gallons of water. Nutrients are added to the water, which is pumped through the tower every 15 to 20 minutes to nourish the crops. In terms of light, indoor tower gardens should be placed near a window, or have light fixtures installed within them.

Research shows that if children have a hand in growing and making food, they are more likely to try it. A Tower Garden provides teachers with an opportunity to teach science, health, environmental issues, nutrition content and how to grow food. The hope is that Tower Gardens will inspire students to grow their own food. Healthy foods build healthy minds and healthy bodies. By teaching children the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, and teaching them how to grow their own, it may protect them from possible chronic illnesses. Students can be completely engaged in the process of a Tower Garden from germinating their seeds, to tending them as they grow, to sharing and eating healthy delicious foods together.

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem.: We are trying to address several issues related to food, nutrition and health issues in the American population. According to recent studies by the National Institute of Health pertaining to the DASH Diet and the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Board's, Let's Move and HealthierUS School Challenge, reveal that fruit and vegetable consumption is extremely low in young children. It also indicated that food insecurity, not knowing where one's next meal is coming from, reached 47 million Americans in the past few years. Our goal with this Tower Garden program is to educate young people about the process of growing your own food to reduce food insecurity issues. The inform students about the sustainability and environmental impact of growing your food and the nutritional benefits that prevent chronic disease health issues.

The criteria state that technology fee projects should benefit students in innovative and/or significant ways. How would you describe the innovation and/or significance of your project?: The significance of this project is that students will be able to learn the various aspects of food production. From planting seeds, growing plants, harvesting the produce, preparing and consuming the produce, students will be able to gain knowledge, understanding and an appreciation of renewable and sustainable food sources.

How will you assess the project?: We will assess the project partly by utilizing the produce that is grown in the Tower Gardens. Also we will assess the project by teaching modules with pre and post knowledge and application surveys for the elementary students. We have had great success with the Tower Gardens this past year in the Food Science in 102 Phillips Hall. We have been able to use the produce in the KNH 104, 203 and 404 labs. this has reduced our food costs by at least $15-20 per week. We have harvested dill, parsley, chives, cilantro, rainbow chard, gourmet lettuce, Swiss chard, bok choy, rosemary, oregano, thyme, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, and jalepeno peppers. We have used these items in salads, soups, salsas, entrees', beverages and breads. It has been a very rewarding experience to work with the students to plant these Tower Gardens, reap the harvest and teach the students about healthy seasonings to reduce chronic disease.

Have you applied for and/or received Tech Fee awards in past years?: Yes

If funded, what results did you achieve?: Yes, we have been issued resources for nutrition computer software, cordless microphones and laptops for use with nutritional analysis projects.

Did you submit a final report?: Yes

What happens to the project in year two and beyond? Will there be any ongoing costs such as software or hardware maintenance, supplies, staffing, etc.? How will these be funded?: Since we have been using the Tower Gardens in the Food Science Lab in Phillips Hall for the Nutrition and Dietetics classes, we have had to re-order nutrients and growing medium. Costs have been less than $150.00 and we have used student lab fees as the source of funding. We would use these resources again for Tower Gardens in the Food Science Lab in Phillips Hall. For the Tower Gardens issued in the elementary schools we would ask for funding from parent groups, community grant funding such as the Kiwanis, and/or work with University Student groups such as the Student Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for fund raising resources.

Budget: Other

Other (please explain): The actual Tower Gardens, support cages, grow light system

Other Costs: $3,900.00

What is the total budget amount requested?: $3,900.00

Comments: http://www.towergarden.com/tg