Thought Seeds

Harvesting Potential: Classroom Hydroponics, School Gardens, and One Unforgettable Community Event

Written by
Tami Lemire
Published on
May 2, 2024
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Rock Star Farmpreneurs Make an Entrance

Last Friday, in a busy mall less than 20 minutes from the glitz and glamor of the Las Vegas strip a most unusual sight greeted shoppers. Crowds of students spilled from big black coaches, their arms filled with bouquets of parsley, basil and dill, some carried lettuces and beets, others wheeled trolleys filled with crafts. Everything was from their school gardens. As the students descended from the buses they were greeted with clapping, hooting and hollering, greetings befitting a rock star from the crowds of supporters who had gathered to ensure these students and teachers were greeted like heroes. One after another, beaming smiles spread across each student's face as they met their fans stepping onto the lawn. Like a rock star on a mission, they headed straight to their designated booths under the tents and went to work laying out their wares to sell. They meant business and were there to score as much money as they could to bring back to their schools!

Witnessing Green Our Planet's Impact Firsthand

After dedicating three decades to the realm of education, with a burning passion for nurturing a STEM-possible mindset in the hearts of students, I believed I had witnessed all the best education can offer. But then, I discovered Green Our Planet, and oh, how my perspective changed! I was swept off my feet by the sheer wonder and enchantment that unfolded at the nation's largest student-run farmers market. This spectacle, a grand finale of months of diligent and rigorous teaching and learning, illuminated the awe-inspiring outcomes of the united endeavors of educators, policymakers, and corporate sponsors in a manner so remarkable, words fail to capture its essence. When you hear multiple students say, “this is the best day of my life,” you know you are creating impact.

A Vibrant Celebration of Community

Sixty Clark County schools converged into Downtown Summerlin and transformed into a breathtaking tableau of collaboration, uniting 600 students all lifted and celebrated by the collective support of an entire community. This gathering transcended mere assembly; it was a jubilant celebration of planting the seeds for our future guardians of the earth—our budding farmers, scientists, conservationists, and entrepreneurs. The atmosphere crackled with the vibrant energy of innovation as students navigated the thrilling experience of nurturing and then selling food grown from seeds in their school gardens and state-of-the-art classroom hydroponics. After dedicating months to investigating where their food comes from, understanding the scientific principles that govern our earth's sustenance, and deepening their connection to the planet that provides this nourishment, these young Farmpreneurs found themselves on the brink of an extraordinary real world experience.

Farmpreneurs Show off Their Savvy Business Skills

During the peak of the bustling market, I could hear Farmpreneurs vying for attention from every direction—who spoke of their toils with pride, their crafts a testament to perseverance and passion. Teachers filled with pride and joy as they empowered their student Farmpreneurs on creative marketing missions. Students of all ages pulled out all the stops to attract customers, from great stories of the “blood, sweat, and tears” that went into their craft projects, costumes and signs ensuring foot traffic would stop and take notice of their offerings, sales associates with braces and mushroom hats convincing me I really needed that craft wreath made from recycled milk cartons, hand painted, and skillfully set with resin to endure the elements.

Real World Experiences Ignite Joy

Armed with their harvest and creative crafts, these young trailblazers ventured into the world of commerce with business plans to compete with their peers as small businesses representing their schools. Their mission was clear—to market their produce and crafts to their local communities and make a profit for their garden programs. Watching these nascent Farmpreneurs interact with an eager public, their faces aglow with genuine joy, underscored the profound impact of empowering our youth to envision boundless futures for themselves. Financial literacy blossomed from abstract concept to exhilarating, tangible experience, unveiling a universe brimming with infinite possibilities (and savvy marketing strategies!).

Community Collaboration Empowers Youth

Together, Green Our Planet brought together stakeholders across aisles, industry, and interests to champion a mindset steeped in potentiality. Together with so many invested partners, we sowed the seeds not just for futures to thrive but for the emergence of a new generation of problem solvers and compassionate global citizens. Observing this collective care in nurturing the curious minds of our youth only deepened my conviction that, through community collaborations, commitment to quality education, and prioritizing opportunities for all students, we will succeed in growing a sustainable tomorrow.

In the heart of a desert, a remarkable story of unity and achievement unfolded, showcasing the incredible power of coming together for a common purpose. This gathering was more than just an exhibition of academic effort; it was a stirring illustration of the potential that lies within our collective endeavors and the enduring impact of learning brought to life in the most engaging way imaginable. And the crowning glory? The students' incredible achievement of raising over $18,000 to reinvest in their schools. This significant milestone not only highlights the effectiveness of practical, hands-on learning but also celebrates the strength of community support in nurturing the next generation of innovators and leaders.

Planting the Seeds for a Greener Future

In my role as Vice President of Impact and Partnerships, I foresee a future where Earth Day is not just an annual event but a daily commitment. A future where communities nationwide are vibrant hubs of student-led farmers markets, the scale and creativity of which are bound only by the extent of our collective imagination and willingness to participate. Imagine a world where all students know where their food comes from, know how to grow their own food, know how to build a business plan and sell their products, and where they believe, because they tasted it, and we collectively planted the seeds, that all future dreams are theirs to sow.

As I type this, my gaze falls upon that purchased wreath that adorns my office, one of many tokens that made their way home with me from the market. It serves as a testament to the creativity and care woven into its creation by youthful hands, minds, and hearts. What was once destined for a landfill has been transformed into a remarkable piece of art—a silent yet powerful reminder of the extraordinary impact we can make. This wreath is not just a room accessory; it stands as a beacon of hope, symbolizing our collective ability to inspire and nurture the next generation. It reaffirms, with every glance, the boundless potential that lies in unity, equity, and the shared commitment to a future where both our planet and our humanity exist in harmony.

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