How Gardening Enables Interdisciplinary Learning

>>Pierre: When I take students out
of class and bring them up here to help me they honestly
have no idea what it is. I get a lot of the same
questions all the time. You know, “What is it? Oh, the plants are feeding the fish
and the fish are feeding the plants.” And “How does it work?”>>Regina Dvorak: What he did on his
own in his greenhouse is real life. It’s real food production. It’s a real solution
to the food problem. The idea is incredibly inspiring.>>Pierre: My mom is really
into gardening so she decided that she wanted to have a
greenhouse on our property. And we decided it would be
a good idea to kinda check out some different alternatives as to
what you could put in a greenhouse. So we decided to go to the
University of Nevada Reno for a workshop basically on
hydroponics and it just intrigued me. I said, “Mom, listen. I think I could build one of these
systems if I had the money to do it.” So I had a little bit of money
in the bank and I decided to spend it on the greenhouse.>>Mary: He just took off with it and
at some point there was, you know, two to three to four
trips every weekend to– going to Home Depot to buy things. And he kept having all these ideas
about what he wanted to do next and then he just went to the Internet
and started looking at YouTube videos and learning different
ways to build systems.>>Pierre: Honestly, I loved, I loved
it, I loved building the system, I loved seeing the plants grow. At that point I was producing
food for my family and neighbors and selling some of it and teaching
people how the systems worked and getting people started at
their homes, on their own systems. And then I came across aquaponics. That really put a new
twist on the whole thing. So here we have a three hundred
gallon trough that houses the fish. From the fish tank,
the water’s gravity fed into these three grow beds. From the grow beds the water drains
out into series of sump tanks.>>Will Allen: Well, most kids today
unfortunately don’t really understand where their food really comes
from in the whole food system because we are several
generations now lost from folks that actually grew up on the farm and
were very connected in a local way or a regional way to their food.>>Pierre: From the sump tanks
the water’s pumped up from a pump that I have right here
into these NFT beds “nutrient film technique”
is the term.>>Will Allen: He’s
embarking on something that is growing as we speak. Fifty percent of our fish that
we eat today is farm-raised. That’s gonna go to about seventy-five
percent in the next five years. So he’s getting the
best of both worlds. He’s using the plants
to remediate the toxins that the fish give
off in their waste. So he’s getting vegetable
product and a protein, fish source about a year later.>>Pierre: The water’s gravity
fed back into the fish tank where the water’s completely purified
and the fish are able to survive in a clean environment where
all the ammonia has been taken out of the system.>>I figured I would
convert all of the systems that I had originally
built hydroponically into aquaponic systems. So I tweaked the systems a
little bit, put in air pumps, basically enhancing the greenhouse
aquaponically ever since.>>Pierre: So I was in an Ag science
class and we were doing some work in the greenhouse and I noticed that
really there wasn’t anything going on in the greenhouse itself. I asked my dad, I said, “Do
you think we can, you know, try and put in an aquaponic system
in the greenhouse at school.” He said, “Yeah. Write up a proposal,
present it to your teacher and the school council
and see what they say.”>>Dan Gayaldo: I had
no idea what it was and what I did was I
looked it up YouTube also. I went to YouTube and I said, “What
is this aquaponics all about?” And I was just blown away by
his enthusiasm, his drive, his determination, and I said, “This
kid’s gonna get this project done.”>>Pierre: Presented the project and
they said, “That’s a fantastic idea. If you can raise the
money we’ll allow you to put a system in the greenhouse.”>>Regina Dvorak: He had to get
a list of materials and costs. He had to go to the
principal and ask. A lot of leg work, six months
worth of nothing in the greenhouse and nervousness about whether
or not he could pull this off.>>Pierre: The community support was
a very large portion of this project. I had to go around to
local organizations and be able to raise the money. So the community was an
instrumental part in the system.>>Ross Kelley: When we have an
AC relay operated by 110 volts, when that fails, the contacts close
and start the DC-powered air pump.>>Okay.>>Ross Kelley: Pierre came along
with the aquaponics project of which we had, basically,
no idea what it was, and he showed us how it works and
we were asked to help him with that, and it’s been a great project and
a good learning experience for us.>>Dan Gayaldo: When Pierre started
this project one of the things he had as a goal was to be able
supply our cafeteria with fresh vegetables right
out of this greenhouse. It was quite a process because any
time you do something in a school, it’s about ten times the paperwork. We have a wonderful salad bar
that’s used by hundreds and hundreds of students every single
day and it’s really neat when those kids know their
digging into those greens, they’re coming right
off of our campus.>>Pierre: So this is a small-scale
aquaponic system that I designed for a classroom or a
residential setting. So you’re looking at
maybe seventy-five to a hundred lettuce
plants every two months.>>Pierre: I want to bring this
system into many different schools. You know, learning opportunity that a
system like this provides is immense. You’ve got water chemistry,
agriculture, science, physics, mathematics, economics. A lot of these subjects could be
modeled from this particular system. If I can provide a curriculum to go
with this system then the knowledge of aquaponics will be
proliferated throughout, hopefully, the United States.>>Will Allen: What Pierre is doing
is something that’s different. Something that schools
aren’t used to dealing with. If you think about this, you
have a student who’s come up with this creative model and
now he goes to the school officials and he says, “Listen, I want to create a curriculum
that I can pass on.” Schools aren’t used to hearing
that kind of stuff because change in schools comes very slow.>>Dan Gayaldo: One of the
shortcomings of education is that we don’t do things that
are application in nature. They’re all theoretical in nature and
this was a project that I think fit into the culture of the community
and the culture of the school. That’s education the
way it should be.


  1. well done Pierre! u had the vision and activated it! truly an inspiration! proliferate this knowledge across the country! many blessings, and much gratitude to you, your family, and Del Oro HS for believing in you…

  2. Hi, this is amazing! Pierre I want to get in touch with you. I teach High school Horticulture and am very inspired to do something like this. How do i get in touch with you??

  3. Can i know what your growbed made of & where to buy them? Looks very neat and clean Compare to fibreglass gb.

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