In 2013 we held seed starting workshops in G.W. Carvery Elementary School’s underutilized greenhouse, and later transplanted the vegetable, herb, and flower seedlings into a raised bed in the front school yard. In September 2013, Carverponics received a small grant from VCU and the Carver Area Civic League to build and design an aquaponic system to be used as an intensive and hands-on platform to hold STEM workshops. We completed construction of the aquaponic system in January of 2014 and began hosting workshops with Carver students on a variety of subjects from beneficial insects, to pollination, pest control, nutrition, ecosystems, aquaculture, hydroponics, gardening, and vermiculture. We hosted over 20 workshops, and worked with a total of 20 teachers, over 700 carver students and over 80 college students. The greenhouse is connected to the science classroom and teachers and students would visit it and utilize it on their own. This was often utilized by Kindergarten through Second Grade, special education, and science classes. The Carver students grew and harvested tilapia fish, lettuce, tomatoes, collard greens, rosemary, and other foods.
We started providing technical assistance at the RTC in 2016 directly supporting the Horiticulture Teacher, Scott Burrell who teaches their Greenhouse Management and Horticulture class. We provided a design that utilized a variety of hydroponic and aquaculture supplies already stored on-site. We managed their installation, cycling, and maintenance throughout the first year. Now the Scott and his students are maintaining the aquaponic and hydroponic systems and we provide assistance as needed. Fish were provided by Virginia State University.
Armstrong H.S science faculty reached out to us in 2015 to do a project in partnership with their science department. We put together a proposal, designed, and constructed strawberry growing systems on their science department balcony. We grew strawberries using 3 distinct methods allowing students to compare the results between soil, aeroponics, and hydroponic media growth. Students and faculty alike enjoyed a harvest of fresh strawberries in spring.
We have been active with the afterschool program and ACE program at Armstrong. Over the summer we facilitated the installation of a raised vegetable bed garden as well as two native pollinator plantings. During the school year we assist with the agriculture program, green team, and also teach a computer design class on Wednesdays where students learn AutoCAD, Adobe Creative tools, and 3D Design & printing!