WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – One metro childcare center is using a year-round garden to educate children about healthy eating habits.
2 For U Childcare has a ‘Tower Garden’ that is built with NASA technology.
Registered Dietitian Jen DeWall said it is an aeroponic growing system that doesn’t use soil to grow plants. Instead it uses air and water.
“We have a big reservoir of water and then the pump just recycles the water through the tower. So we end up using about 90 percent less water than you would with a traditional garden,” DeWall said.
DeWall said the tower can hold up to 24 plants at a time. Herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers can all grow in a Tower Garden.
“It’s 30 percent quicker than what you would find in a traditional garden, because it is more of the ambient lighting and watering and that type of thing,” DeWall said.
2 For U Childcare Owner Jill Schafer said the tower can see a mature plant within three to four weeks.
“We’ve always looked for different ways to get the kids to eat fruits and vegetables on their own and be interested in it,” Schafer said.
The Tower Garden comes with curriculum to educate children about how a seed grows into something edible.
Preschool Teacher Melissa Madonia said, “We teach it three times a week. We are teaching how we can grow plants and vegetables without having to have herbicides on them, have chemicals.”
Five-year old student Brixon Schmidt said, “We plant the seeds in pots and then we wait for them to grow outside at our window and then we put them in the tower garden.”
Five-year-old student Banks Johnson explains how the Tower Garden works with, “The light works as the sun and the water works as the rain.”
Madonia said the students will harvest the plants and then get to eat them during a snack or meal.
“When you get to watch something grow and you do it with your own hands you enjoy it more. So, they’re learning to eat healthy,” Madonia said.
Madonia said the students hope to see watermelon grow from the Tower Garden in the next few months.
DeWall said people can purchase a Tower Garden for $1,200 to keep inside their home.
For more information on how to purchase a Tower Garden, click here.