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LCES on WBIR - Students grow their own vegetables in Lake City Elementary's STEAM class

Posted Date: 05/22/2023

ROCKY TOP, Tenn. — Students at Lake City Elementary in Rocky Top are eating vegetables! And they're eating them fast. 

The teacher of the STEAM class at Lake City, Rebekah Bozeman said she tried to set up "Salad Fridays" to encourage kids to eat salads, but it wouldn't stick — because they were eating too much. 

"They ate it all," Bozeman said. "We couldn't have Salad Fridays anymore ... They're like little rabbits."

It's because the students grow the vegetables themselves. Bozeman taught them to grow vegetables hydroponically, meaning they grow in water instead of dirt.

"Things grow three to five times faster in hydroponics than they do in soil," Bozeman said. 

The students learn the plant life cycle, they learn to measure the pH of the water, and add fertilizer, to help the plants grow. Gabby Green, a fifth-grader who helps grow the vegetables said they taste better because the students grow the vegetables themselves. 

"Knowing that you've helped grow it, and you took part in helping it grow," Green said. "They were much better than normal salads." 

Bozeman said learning about plants, as well as nutrition, is important for students who live in Rocky Top. 

"Up until last month, Rocky Top was a food desert," Bozeman said. "We didn't have a grocery store." 

The STEAM teacher said she wanted to expose the students to fresh vegetables and teach them about vegetables they wouldn't ordinarily try. The students are growing arugula, eggplant, dill, parsley, purple basil, bell peppers, jalapenos and tomatoes. 

The class at Lake City encourages kids to learn in a hands-on way. The students choose from robotics, electronics, 3D printing and many other activities in Bozeman's classroom.