Combining Education with Production to Empower the Future
A Frenchtown School District Partnership
What is Freedom Gardens?
In the fall of 2021, Freedom Gardens built planting beds into the ground of the greenhouse. The beds are filled with a mixture of topsoil and compost. The side walls of the beds help to provide natural insulation. Combined with our greenhouse heating system, we will be able to grow produce year round in this space. The in-ground beds are a space that provides opportunities for classrooms and community volunteers to learn about gardening and growing food in soil. The in-ground beds were designed to replicate more traditional spaces, like gardens or raised beds. The skills and lessons taught with this system are intended to be taken to other spaces. Our intentions with this space are to give people knowledge that they can bring with them and share with other community members.
In addition to the aquaponics system, we have two hydroponic growing systems currently in use in our greenhouse. There are two clay media beds that are used to grow everything from tomatoes and watermelons to kale and basil! Clay pebbles are used as a support substrate for the plants and act as a growing media. The beds are fully automated- water is pumped into the bed on a timer and drains out of the bed to the same holding tank that it came from. The other hydroponic system we have in our greenhouse is nicknamed the “prop table.” The prop table is an ebb and flow system. Water flows into the prop table and drains out on a timer every day. This system is great for starting seedlings, propagating plants (hence the name!) and maintaining larger plant starts.
To supplement our greenhouse and indoor growing spaces, we have several outdoor systems and locations that allow us to grow outside during the warmer seasons! We have a small garden space located at the Frenchtown Elementary School. During the summer of 2021, this garden space provided us with basil, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins and beautiful yellow sunflowers! An elementary school classroom planted the pumpkin patch in the spring, and got to return in the fall to harvest their pumpkins. On the east end of our plot, we have a large compost pile. We are able to reduce our waste by composting all of the organic matter that we produce. Compost bins are available for teachers to use in classrooms so they can teach students about reducing food waste and diverting it from our landfill.