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Madeline Keiger, Youth Press Team 2023

On May 24th, NY Sun Works hosted its 12th Annual Youth Conference, where presenters from schools around New York City come to talk about their work in their hydroponic and green classroom. The conference showcases the incredible impact that the hands-on learning that hydroponic classrooms offer. 

Hydroponics is way of growing plants without soil. The seeds are planted in a special substance called rockwool. Once the plants have roots, they are transferred to a hydroponic growing system, where they are given water with nutrients in it. Hydroponics are a very sustainable way to farm. It takes up much less space, because you can stack layers of plants on top of each other in the systems. It is also a good solution to food insecurity issues in many places, because it can happen indoors as well as outdoors, wherever you want, whether it is in a urban or a rural environment. 

Beatrix Fromm, a presenter from West End Secondary School, explained that their project “has shown us how food can be grown, and the impact that hydroponics can make on the environment.” Beatrix and the other presenters from WESS did a project on how food can be grown hydroponically, and how food gets to us from around the world. Beatrix also mentioned how the project they presented on taught them about the world around them. “It has improved our knowledge of what is going on around the world with climate justice and other environmental issues,” they said. One of the other presenters, Amira Campbell, told us that the project had made her realize just how much food is imported from other countries, and how that greatly impacts the environment. Amira explained that she learned how growing things hydroponically can have a huge impact. 

The presenters have also learned a lot from their hydroponic classrooms about the impacts of climate change, and how hydroponics can help with this in a presentation from PS 84, by Lyne Aici, Weronica Iwaniuk, Delia Moses, and Alyssa Velasquez. Delia explained to us that the project had “really opened [her] eyes.” The students also mentioned that the project helped teach other students as well. PS 84 focused on the effects of climate change, particularly ocean acidification, on ocean animals around the world. They looked at how the way that we get our food impacts the world around us in many ways. In their presentation, they explained how by getting our food from far away, we release greenhouse gasses, and therefore contribute to climate change. This hurts humans, as well as other organisms such as ocean animals. If hydroponics is used to farm, the food can be grown locally, allowing for less contribution to climate change. 

The presenters at the conference also learned a lot in their classrooms about food insecurity, and how many places don’t have access to healthy food and clean water, like they need too. Justin Goodman, a presenter from PS 199, explained how before the project, he was “really unaware of how [water quality] is different all around the world, how it is a huge problem in many places.” His project focused on the importance of water quality, and how it is a huge issue around the world. “I didn’t know how important water quality is, and when I started doing this, I realized that this is something big. Something that really matters,” He told us. The hydroponics classrooms have allowed the presenters to understand now only the impact that hydroponics have, but also the impact that they can have.


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