Damien students grow plants without dirt

Published: Apr. 15, 2009 at 5:22 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 15, 2009 at 5:47 PM HST
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Nathan Tehadal
Nathan Tehadal
Georgia Nguepdjo
Georgia Nguepdjo

By Tracy Gladden - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Students at a local high school are growing plants without dirt, and are achieving great results. High school cafeterias are a thing of the past at Damien Memorial School. Welcome to the habitat, students here work on growing cheery tomatoes and lettuce hydroponically. It's a way of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil.

"Working with plants, wether they are in the ground or in water is a favorite of mine," student Nathan Tehadal said.

Inside these tanks swim sunrise tilapia and Chinese catfish. "Were gonna harvest here and those are going to be sold hopefully for someone to eat," biology teacher Georgia Nguepdjo says, "It's been a wonderful outlet for the boys they come at lunch, they come after school."

It all happens here in the hydroponics garden. Nathan says using water instead of dirt takes less effort and less growing time and it's all great for the environment.

"Normally this kind of lettuce would take a month at least to grow and this only took two weeks to grow to its current size," Tehadal said.

The water contains the same nutrients as the soil, but in greater concentrations, and they put all the green waste in a compost pile. "So many kids are inside videos games and not getting out they don't know what the environment is about and this provides that opportunity," Nguepdjo says, "they are my teacher as much as I'm with them."

Here, nothing goes to waste, especially the lessons. "I'd like to buy a nice piece of land and replicate these results," Tehadal said.