How Gardens are Helping Kids Heal

(from left to right: April Lahey, Science teacher at Longmore Academy-MHY; Becky Rinker, Tower Gardens; George Pacinda, Lincoln Learning Solutions; Lisa Schiller, MHY Family Services Executive Director

Teachers are always looking for new and exciting ways to help students learn. Staff at MHY Family Services’ Longmore Academy are doing just that thanks to a grant from Lincoln Learning Solutions that has provided them with unique, soil-less Tower Gardens.

MHY specializes in helping children and young adults overcome behavioral struggles through trauma-informed rehabilitation methods.  Recently, staff at MHY’s Longmore Academy installed two Tower Gardens that allow students to learn about plant cycles, gardening, math and the ability to care for a living organism.

There is no better way to grab a student’s attention than quickly growing an array of herbs and vegetables without any soil. For some of these students, this will provide some of the only fresh vegetables and healthy foods they will be able to enjoy.

“We are beyond excited to have these amazing Tower Gardens in Longmore Academy,” said Lisa Schiller, Executive Director of MHY. “Our students are in special and serious circumstances in which many of them have a hard time building connections. Being able to care for something as simple as a tomato plant is drastically improving their self-esteem and team skills. I feel this is such a great blessing to our school and I am forever thankful to Lincoln Learning Solutions for the grant opportunity.”

Tower Gardens, unlike traditional gardening methods, do not require the use of soil, thus keeping the classroom clean, free of pests and making the garden transportable. It uses a combination of a special hydro-system, air and lights to maintain proper watering and sunlight.

While Tower Gardens are not new to schools in the surrounding area, MHY is the first organization to receive these systems through a grant opportunity provided by Lincoln Learning Solutions.

“The Tower Gardens give students a lot of opportunity for hands-on learning, which is important for alternative ed student engagement,” George Pacinda, Vice President of Philanthropy at Lincoln Learning Solutions. “It is also a great way to get them involved in multi-disciplinary studies.”

Teachers, staff and students at MHY are excited to experience a whole new world of gardening in the classroom. Science teachers are using this opportunity to teach students about the plant cycle, food production and sustainability. Other teachers are using it to help students with math as they measure plant growth as well as critical life-skills as they learn to take care of something.

“Our gardens have already flowered and produced several yields,” said Christine Raymond, Director of Education. “Some students were able to try new vegetables and herbs like basil, bok choy, and arugula for the first time in their lives. This is a great opportunity for students as it will positively affect them in many ways.”

Check out the amazing articles in the Butler Eagle and the Beaver County Times!