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How Vertical Hydroponic Gardens Benefit Students and Schools

How Vertical Hydroponic Gardens Benefit Students and Schools

Watching a seed unfurl its first leaves, transforming from a small speck into green, growing, and blossoming life is a magical thing. It never fails to inspire awe, whether you are 60, 16, or 6 years old.

That awe-inducing nature of gardening is precisely what makes it a powerful educational tool. Awe begets curiosity; curiosity motivates learning. Increasingly, vertical gardens are becoming a popular fixture in schools across Canada. By combining elements of biology, sustainable food production, technology, and engineering, vertical hydroponic gardens are an immersive way to put the curriculum of almost any subject into practice, from chemistry to biology to business, right in the classroom.

Why Vertical Gardens?

It is easy enough to sprout a row of seeds on a classroom windowsill or in a small garden plot outside. While these exercises are extremely valuable in their own right, some design characteristics make vertical gardens uniquely suitable as an educational tool for classroom environments.


Indoor vertical garden systems are simple, intuitive, and light on maintenance. Water pumps and lights run on timed automated cycles. The nutrient solution only needs to be topped up every week or two. They provide diverse learning opportunities while demanding minimal staff time to run and maintain than a traditional outdoor garden or greenhouse.


The best vertical gardening systems include rolling casters. The systems are easily moved in and out of storage or rotated through classrooms as needed.


Vertical gardens can be kept simple for plant growth demonstrations for early elementary students, or customized for use in high school science and technology programs. Some systems are extremely adaptable, with programmable software, adjustable light cycles, and modular designs.

A critical advantage of indoor vertical gardens is their adaptability to any climate. Plants can grow to maturity in any classroom, in any month, anywhere in the world—from Moncton, New Brunswick to Gjoa Haven, Nunavut.


Smaller vertical gardens only take up a couple of feet of floor space—perfect for schools already cramped for space. A vertically oriented design means they can grow as much produce as an outdoor garden plot in a fraction of the space. Vertical gardens are also water and energy-efficient, thanks to timed LED lighting systems and closed-loop irrigation systems.

Vertical Gardens Provide Experiential STEM Education

Along with classroom-friendly design, vertical gardens have wide engineering and technology-related applications beyond your typical garden or greenhouse. Almost every STEM topic can be demonstrated in action through a vertical garden, including plant biology, nutrient cycles, pH levels, resource use, and the engineering and technological aspects of food production, from pump design to light requirements.

Experiential learning opportunities provided by vertical gardens can go beyond STEM subjects. Food production can be integrated into the curriculum of social studies, history, and business courses as well.

Vertical Gardens Can Cultivate Environmental Awareness

Most adults, let alone school-age kids, are shockingly disconnected from the realities of food production. Less than 2% of all Canadians are farmers, while more than 80% of Canadians live in cities. Many of us are now able to take food for granted. As a result, it becomes easy to discount vast quantities of land and natural resources required to keep those grocery shelves fully stocked.

Vertical gardens provide a learning opportunity that many of us are no longer exposed to—the fundamental process of growing food. They can help cultivate the stewardship of our precious natural resources—healthy soil, fresh water, stable climate—that are easily taken for granted in modern life but impossible to live without.

Vertical Gardens Can Inspire Tomorrow’s Farmers and Innovators

Already, very few Canadians are farmers, and that number is shrinking even further by the day. The average age of Canadian farmers is 56. What happens when they retire?

There is no clear solution to this deeply concerning problem. Most younger Canadians have no interest in farming, associating it with long hours, rural environments, financial uncertainty, and gruelling labour. But vertical gardens help reframe farming within wider STEM professions. Not only do they introduce the critical role of farming in our lives, vertical gardens can help students reimagine how they can help feed the planet. 

Sustainably feeding the planet is a task that demands more farmers but also more plant breeders, agricultural engineers, computer scientists, soil conservationists, and earth stewards. Vertical gardens can help inspire the farmers and innovators that our future food system will desperately need.

Using Gardening to Encourage Interdisciplinary Thinking

Food systems are complex. They involve biology, technology, chemistry, engineering, nutrition, land use, sustainability, labour, food security, entrepreneurship, and so much more. Vertical gardens illustrate many of these interconnections and are a playground to explore complex systems—an opportunity for students (and educators) to develop their interdisciplinary thinking skills. Interdisciplinary thinking is a highly valuable skill for any STEM profession, one that is sometimes underappreciated in a hyper-specialized world.

Many school boards are reaping the benefits of vertical gardens in ways that reflect the systems approach. They are using vertical gardens to educate, to add fresh, nutritious produce to student lunch programs, to achieve sustainability targets, and to address food security challenges in their own communities.

Funding for School Vertical Hydroponic Garden Programs

Vertical garden systems are cost-effective—many will pay for themselves in produce grown over a single year. There are also many funding opportunities available to Canadian schools seeking additional financial support for vertical garden programs.

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation Grant

The TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF) Grant supports a diverse range of environmental initiatives across Canada, with a particular focus on environmental education.

Learn more about the TD FEF Grant here.

Canadian Farm to School Grant

Farm to Cafeteria Canada, Whole Kids Foundation, and other collaborators work together to administer the Canadian Farm to School Grant. As much as $10,000 in funding is available to K-12 schools for vertical garden equipment, nutrition education, advocacy training, and salad bars.

Learn more about the Canadian Farm to School Grant here.

Nutrients For Life Learning Garden Grant

The Nutrients for Life Learning Garden Grant provides funding for school garden initiatives, from raised beds to greenhouses to vertical hydroponic growing systems. The grant seeks to connect STEM and agriculture, using gardens as the experiential backdrop where elements of chemistry, biology, math, computer science, social studies, and history all intersect.

Learn more about the Learning Garden Grant here

Find the Right Indoor Vertical Gardens for Your School is the dedicated supplier of the best Canadian vertical garden indoor technology. We distribute cost-effective and high-quality vertical gardens to schools across the country.

We’re passionate about gardening, sustainability, and STEM education, and can’t wait to help you get your school garden project started. Feel free to email us at or call 1(888) 851-8852 with any comments or questions.
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