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New tower garden at Eisenhower Science Academy will fight local food insecurity

Norristown school helps fight food insecurity with a Green Bronx Machine hydroponic garden
Norristown school helps fight food insecurity with a Green Bronx Machine hydroponic garden 02:24

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) -- This is a new age kind of garden that's in a school. It's helping combat the food desert in Norristown and give students a new learning opportunity.

This is something you won't see in most schools. 

"This is a Green Bronx Machine hydroponic garden," Don Conaway, STEM coordinator at Eisenhower Science Academy, explained. 

It will eventually look like this, growing plants without soil.


"Anything from tomatoes, peppers and lettuce to herbs, strawberries," Conaway said. 

Conaway said it's sustained with natural and artificial light and liquid minerals for nutrition.


 "I'm excited to learn more about it cause I'm not exactly sure how its going to work," eighth-grader River Procyson-Heiden said.

The unveiling of a new tower garden at Eisenhower Science Academy, a partnership with @jeffersonuniv to help combat the...

Posted by Stephanie Stahl on Friday, September 22, 2023

This garden is strategically placed in Norristown, which has been identified as a food desert. In fact, 73% of students here are economically disadvantaged.

"Considering where we are, it's harder to get healthier options," eighth-grader, Clare Ely said.

This could change that and bring important health benefits.

"In addition to having growth delay, we know having inadequate nutritional diet can result in developmental delay which is brain growth," Dr. Charles Pohl said. 

Dr. Pohl is a pediatrician with Jefferson Health, which is co-sponsoring the tower garden with the Norristown School District.

"It's really important for us to give back to the community," he said. 

The produce will be shared with the community and students.

"This hopefully is another place where we can grow those fresh fruits and vegetables to be able to reduce that food desert," Conaway said. 

With the help of a garden that doesn't depend on weather conditions.

In the winter, the garden will be fine.

"It will be fine. We'll do it all year long," he said. 

Giving students a double dose of health with a new learning experience.

"It's a good example for our students to try to experiment with things that are nontraditional ways of gardening," Conaway said. 

The project is also supported by Green Bronx Machine, a nonprofit that's shown when students get involved with agriculture, they're much more likely to eat fresh produce. 

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