Garden party: Bath Beach middle school opens new hydroponics lab

Left to right: Joseph Gulino, Andrew Pugliese of the Sanitation Department, Denise Felipe from the Borough President’s Office, Jeannine Cherichetti of Councilman Mark Treyger’s Office, school Principal Maria Bender, and Science Teach Antony Solino, along with several students, cut the ribbon on the new Hydroponics Lab.
Photo By Steve Solomonson

Bath Beach middle schoolers can now grow fruits and vegetables at IS 281’s new hydroponics lab.

Science Teacher Antony Solino poses in the new Hydroponics lab.
Photo By Steve Solomonson

The school held a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 29 to mark the official opening of the lab, where students will learn the science of farming without soil, according to the school’s science teacher.

Jennifer Prescott explaining to the students how the process works in the new facility.
Photo By Steve Solomonson

“The students really like it. The majority of these kids have never done anything like this,” said Antony Solino. “They take it seriously. It’s a big responsibility because this is a living thing.”

Ben Iriland of the City’s Sanitation Recycling Team (left), Denise Felipe from the Borough President’s office (center left), I.S. 281 Principal Maria Bender (center right), and Sanitation Department Chief Andrew Pugliese (right) cut the second ribbon on the Hydroponics Lab.
Photo By Steve Solomonson

The school purchased the lab using a $250,000 grant from Borough President Eric Adam’s office, which also funded a flight simulator, a three dimensional printer, and other technology projects.

0City Sanitation Department Chief Andrew Pugliese plants vegetables in the outdoor organic garden.
Photo By Steve Solomonson

Solino said the lab, which hosts more than 100 plants, provided an opportunity to teach kids about the wonders of hydroponics, which uses rockwool, mineral nutrients, and water solvent to grow plant-life.

I.S. 281Principal Maria Bender shows off show fresh vegetables she picked from the Hydroponics Lab.
Photo By Steve Solomonson

“You go away on Friday, and you come back on Monday, and the plants have grown several inches,” he said. “It’s like elves cast a spell on it.”

Solino hopes the school can expand the lab in future years to include more students, grow more plants, and put the harvest to better use.

“It’s great to be able to use the vegetables in our own cafeteria for things like salad, but ultimately a great goal would be to use it to donate to a food pantry.”

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.

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