Written by Amy Andrews
100 Gardens is tackling the lofty goal of changing the way we look at our food supply and water access in a practical way - by educating our next generation about aquaponics – the cultivation of fish and plants together in a constructed, re-circulating ecosystem.
The simple beauty of this concept is that students learn about sustainable living as well as critical science, math, nutrition and skill development concepts in the process of growing their own food.
Founded in Charlotte by Sam Fleming, the 100 Gardens project has been about empowering people and engaging students to connect with their resources in new and different ways. Their latest exciting push has been to develop both a K-5 and high school aquaponics curriculum that ties in with North Carolina State Curriculum Guidelines.
The new curriculum will be rolled out at 10 schools this year, including Oakhurst STEAM, Walter G Byers, Garinger High School, Myers Park High School and West Charlotte High School and will ultimately reach up to 3,000 students this year alone.
100 Gardens was the recipient of two Lowe’s Gift Cards as part of the recent #GivingTuesdayCLT. They used the proceeds to secure materials for the construction of the aquaponics lab that has just been created at Garinger High School. The funds that would have been used for materials was diverted to their curriculum budget to enable teachers to create intellectual property to further the new 100 Gardens school curriculum.
In keeping with its mission, 100 Gardens’ annual fundraiser is about growing food. The Homegrown Tomato Festival has been a hugely successful event and will be held again this year on July 27th.
There is still time to attend and have a chance to see an aquaponics lab up and working and talk with students who are involved. You can also meet and talk to serious backyard growers who will be on hand with their harvest. Taste and then vote for who will be crowned the region’s best tomato!
If that weren’t enough, you can sample tomato themed cocktails and vote for your favorite and your $10 entry even includes a tomato sandwich. Visit homegrowntomato.org to buy tickets for this tasty event in NoDa.
100 Gardens is also looking for volunteers who would like to help students maintain aquaponics labs at partner schools, serve as mentors for the curriculum or assist with after school aquaponics clubs being formed. They are also looking for small on-going donations, such as $10 a month, to keep the labs up and running.