Farmstand Hydroponic Grow Towers

Moderation state
Grant Applicant
Ingrid Bourke, Tahoe Lake Elementary School
School Site
Grant Category
Grant Date

The Farmstand is a 36 plant hydroponic grow tower and I would like to purchase three additional towers for Tahoe Lake Elementary. Our PTO sponsored the purchase of one for the 3rd grade classrooms to share and we started producing lettuces and other vegetables in February. Learning about plant life cycles is a standard across most of the elementary grade curriculum. What better way to understand this process than actually growing your own food from seedling to harvest? Tahoe Lake is a very long, stretched out school, so we would like to have a Farmstand in each section of the school so it is visible and frequently accessible to all of our students. One Farmstand would go in our greenhouse where other science activities occur weekly. Another one will be placed in the library which all students visit weekly and a final one in our cafeteria. Kelly Frankenberg, our food service provider, is so excited to grow greens that she can serve our students.

Besides learning about plant life cycles and watching the plants grow, the students are learning to take responsibility for caring and maintaining the Farmstand. Weekly, the students check and record the pH of the water and adjust the chemicals accordingly, add nutrients to the water, monitor the water level, check the health of the plants, record changes to plant size and determine if it’s time to harvest. A final benefit is kids are actually seeing how a plant goes from seedling to their plates! There is often a disconnect between how final food products end up in the grocery store. Our 3rd grade students are so excited to make and eat the first salad with lettuce that we grew!


Benefits of Program

All students at Tahoe Lake will benefit from the interaction with the Farmstand. They will plant the seedlings, care for the Farmstand and enjoy a product they grew.

 Part of the curriculum at many grade levels is life cycles and how plants reproduce. As teachers, we are seeing more and more that our students are disconnected and unaware of where the food they eat comes from and how it is grown.  Being able to grow plants that they can see change every week really helps to cement the curriculum we are teaching. The Farmstand will also give students the responsibility of caring for the plants and an introduction to some basic chemistry by checking the pH weekly and understanding that plants need nutrients that we need to supply since they are not growing in healthy soil.  There are also so many opportunities for students to research foods they are unfamiliar with, write about them, make presentations, nurture those plants in the Farmstand and finally eat them.

Success of Program

I have already seen the success of having a Farmstand with my students this year. The students are excited to see the weekly changes in the vegetables we are growing and are so excited to eventually harvest and eat them. We have been learning about the parts of plants, length of time from seed to harvest and what is needed to produce a “fruit”. I have observed them identifying the flowers on plants and discussing that “there is where we’ll get a tomato”. And just a few days ago there was a flutter of excitement with this exchange: “We have a baby tomato!”  “Oh my gosh, we really do!  That is so COOL!” “When can we eat it?” They are also wondering how we are going to get a head of cauliflower out of this little seedling. There is so much scientific wondering, curiosity, and investigation going on.  Having the “real” thing at our fingertips makes the plant curriculum being taught so much more interesting and meaningful.

I am confident this will be the case with other students in the school because they will be able to interact with the Farmstand frequently as it will be in the vicinity of their classrooms. 



Ideally we will start this in late September. As soon as the Farmstands arrive we will assemble and place them in their locations-one in the greenhouse, one in the library and one in the cafeteria. Once the seedlings arrive they will be planted and students will be trained as to how to care for the Farmstand and the plants as described earlier. This will be a year long, ongoing project.


Can you share this grant with your grade level or subject team?

 Yes!  Grade levels will work together to compliment their curriculum with the plants in the Farmstand.  

The Farmstands and the Glow Rings will be sustainable. The plants and nutrients are consumable. If we cannot secure other funding in the future we will request additional funding from EEF to purchase new seedlings and nutrients to use throughout future school years. This is a small cost compared to the Farmstand and its other components.
Amount Funded
Individual Budget Items(s)
$3597 - 3 Farmstands (hold 36 plants) and Glow Rings @ $1199 each
$165 - 3 dollies @ $55 each
$360 - 4 sets of 36 plants @ $90 each
$720 - 8 sets of additional plants to replace plants after harvest
$150 - pH test kit, chemicals to lower pH, and nutrients
Other funding sources

The Tahoe Lake PTO purchased one Farmstand for Tahoe Lake in the winter of 2022.  Potentially, Kat Soltanmorad, Director of  Food & Nutrition Services for TTUSD, and the Tahoe Food Hub could be a source for additional seedlings and nutrients and eventually additional Farmstands for Tahoe Lake.


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I am using the company Lettuce Grow because it is where I purchased the original Farmstand. They have given us tax exempt status and have had great customer service. I have had no problem with the original order nor any problem with the seedlings that were shipped to us.