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Eye On Education: North End School Teaches Agriculture

BOSTON (CBS) -- If you can't bring city kids to the farm to learn about agriculture, then maybe you have to bring the farm to them.

That's what's happening at St. John's School in the North End. Elementary school students are growing their own vegetables in a tower garden right in the heart of the city.

The tower garden is a vertical hydroponic garden. It stands about six feet tall and can accommodate 20 different plants.

Every 15 minutes, water is pumped from the base to irrigate the roots. The plants are exposed to a barrage of bright lights.

Students monitor the growth of the plants each day and record data on their kale, Swiss chard, and lavender.

The tower garden curriculum is a living science experiment, but school volunteer Karen Shea says it can be incorporated in other classes, like social studies and art.

Most importantly, with its bright lights and vibrant colors, it is creating excitement among the students.

6th grader Mattea Del Peschio said this is much different than learning about plants out of a traditional science book. "I can see it. I can feel it. I know everything that is going on."

4th grader Peter Shea told us he has now developed a taste for fresh basil. "My mom makes this amazing homemade pizza and I always just put it on there."

While the plants are growing downstairs, there are big dreams flourishing on the school's roof. The hope is to someday cover it with a full garden.

"We could do many things with that," said Karen Shea. "If we're growing a lot of food, we could be feeding restaurants in the area that sponsor the program."

Another idea is to donate produce to local homeless shelters.

The Grafton Group helped provide the funding for the tower garden project at St. John's.

If you have an Eye On Education story for Paula Ebben, email her at or contract her on Twitter @PaulaEbbenWBZ

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