Trevor Horn, RCS Teacher and leader of the first official high school chapter of the Slow Foods group could barely contain his excitement as he showed off his new green house and compost piles at RHS' Livingston Campus. "We've got worms now!" he exclaimed. A bucket of worms will help the compost pile turn into fertilizer, which will then in turn provide nutrients for the veggies that are growing in the green house.
The green house, which was a result of the Ohio STEM Learning Network Challenge through Battelle for Kids, is considered "off-grid," meaning it does not have a main energy source. Rain barrels on either side of the green house collect water and there is no electricity. Mr. Horn wants the area to be completely self-sufficient and not draw on energy sources from the main high school building. "Eventually, we will get solar panels," he explained.
The area will also eventually have 16-18 raised beds and will practice crop rotation to ensure the soil isn't stripped of nutrients. Linda, a Reynoldsburg Community Member and Master Gardener, helped with the greenhouse and said that they are growing cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and more. The produce will go to several places: the cafeteria, a farmers market and food pantry.
"The goal is to grow enough produce that we can set up a farmer's market at football games," said Mr. Horn. "We are also looking into partnering with a food pantry, which typically needs non-perishable food, but we think there is a way to supply fresh vegetables to those who need them."
The money raised from the farmer's market will go back into the Slow Foods Movement.
The group also wants to learn about pickling, canning and other ways to preserve food. "The Slow Foods Movement is more than just cooking," said Mr. Horn. "It is about food science. We need to learn how many cucumbers we need to grow to make a jar of pickles. We need to understand what it means to grow food to what it means to process it and everything in between. There's a science behind it."
Mr. Horn is currently working with the Ohio Department of Education to create an agricultural pathway for RCS, and there is evidence of the Slow Foods Group throughout the District at Herbert Mills STEM Middle School, the Waggoner Campus, STEM Middle at Baldwin Road and the Summit Campus.
"Our second graders are working on Global Goal Number 2, which is zero hunger," said Herbert Mills STEM Elementary School Principal Mary Ellen Weeks. "We use our school garden as a platform to explore how food is grown, as well as solutions to make food production more sustainable."
Mr. Horn is constantly looking for opportunities to partner with agricultural groups. Recently he met with the Corn and Soy Bean Council and later this summer he will attend a national conference to discuss how to implement food growing and processing in schools at a national level.
"I challenge myself to learn everything I can so I can be a better teacher," he said. "It's been really fun involving my students as they haven't been exposed to food science at this level."