By Kailey Pauls
Project SucSeed is an award winning hydroponic system developed by Memorial University students to address the need for fresh affordable produce in our province. SucSeed helps to address this issue as it provides the ability to grow fresh produce anywhere, at any time. The term “hydroponic” means a method of growing without using soil. Instead of soil, the system uses a nutrient-rich solution and a specialized ultra-violet light. Nearly any fruit or vegetable, except root vegetables, can be grown using this system.
Since the fall of 2017, 56 SucSeed systems have been distributed to 43 schools throughout the western region. Students not only enjoy the hands-on approach to learning, but are involved in all aspects of the project. Students help with setting up the systems; planting the seeds; maintaining the systems; mixing the nutrients and testing pH; harvesting the vegetables; and preparing the produce grown in the system. Schools have been able to link the systems to the curriculum. Some examples of this include discussion around photosynthesis (science); discussion regarding life in remote and rural areas (social studies); daily growth logs kept in which students made predictions and took measurements of growth (math and science); and created posters highlighting what they learned (language arts).
At first, schools only received lettuce seeds with the system. Students were genuinely excited to see the lettuce grow. The harvested lettuce was used to make salads for the classroom, as part of lunch programs and one school offered a school-wide salad bar, serving over 80 side plates of salad to students and staff. One of the smaller, more remote schools was able to grow enough lettuce so that each student was able to take home a head of lettuce. As a result of teacher feedback, other types of seeds are being provided with the systems such as kale, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, basil and parsley.
Teachers felt the systems encouraged students to try healthy foods and taught them how to grow food in a sustainable and non-traditional way.
For more information on the SucSeed Systems,visit www.sucseed.ca or email email@example.com
(Kailey Pauls is a school health liaison with Western Health)