Urban Farming comes to the Hoboken Public Schools

An Urban Farming Institute has come to The Hoboken Public School District
Posted on 04/10/2023

An Urban Farming Institute has come to The Hoboken Public School District

The program offers specialized educational experiences that provide opportunities for students in Grades  to explore in-depth, STEM-based horticulture topics that bring students beyond the walls of their classrooms.

Hoboken, NJ, — Monday, April 10, 2023. The Urban Farming Institute (UFI) for 4th and 5th Grade students across the district was recently unveiled.  This program, led by Michael Caniglia and Anastasia Barsukova, is an immersive, semester-long program designed to provide students from Brandt, Connors, and Wallace Elementary Schools with a hydroponics growing experience related to Hoboken and the greater urban farming environment.

Students in this program registered for this program based on their interest in gardening, professional data collection and reporting, project-based learning, and hands-on scientific discovery. Modeled after Hoboken Middle School’s wildly popular River Explorers Institute, the Urban Farming Institute engages a cohort of learners with similar interests and passions beyond the walls of a typical classroom. 

Our urban farmers are budding farmers, botanists and horticulturists, scientists, researchers, environmentalists, ecologists, biologists, and entrepreneurs. The goal of the Urban Farming Institute is to encourage and create opportunities for upper elementary students to become proactive in their community by participating in the full growing process from seed to harvest, while experiencing the benefits of hyper-local, sustainable food production. 

All students enrolled are exposed to a wealth of horticulture-related activities and educational opportunities that include all content area domains. This is achieved by fostering innate curiosity of the sciences while providing professional responsibilities and an on-campus facility that supports these inquiries.

The Urban Farming Institute sessions take place in a specialized lab at Hoboken High School. The lab is equipped with forty-eight vertical hydroponic units, purchased by the Hoboken Public Education Foundation (HPEF). In addition to funding the vertical units, the HPEF has graciously funded supplies and field trips associated with the Urban Farming Institute. Participants in UFI meet every Friday after school, along with some Monday and Sunday afternoons. 

In the first semester of UFI this year, students learned the science behind hydroponics. During the first few weeks, students experimented with planting seeds in different types of rockwool, adding varying amounts of water and adjusting pH levels, and mixing the proper ratios of nutrients and plant food to add to the vertical gardens. Many of the plants are on their way to becoming real food sources, not only for research purposes but also to assist food insecure classmates. 

Mr. Christopher DellaFave, Director of Innovative Programs for the Hoboken Public School District said, “Introducing a hands-on institute such as this warms my heart. Our students will not only benefit from learning about key elements of sustainability, but will experience all that goes along with helping others.”

Students are growing a wide variety of leafy greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers, with more to come. This past week, Caniglia and Barsukova took the students on a walking field trip to a ShopRite to take a close look at the vegetables they are growing and how much they cost if sold in a local supermarket. Their findings will be used for the entrepreneurial component of the course, including work at a local farmer’s market. 

At the start of the Urban Farming Institute, students were assigned individual topics of interest within the course. Students will be responsible for collecting data, conducting research related to their topic of interest, and creating action plans. Students will present their findings to a panel and to their families via multimedia presentation at the final Urban Farming Institute session.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.