Indoor Growing Lab
Philip’s Academy strives to not only introduce our students to cutting edge technology, but also to ensure they understand that there are other methods that have been used for centuries and are now being rediscovered. AeroFarms is part of our indoor, controlled environment, growing system (another one of our learning environments). Students study the concepts of water usage, plant selection and care, plant nutrient requirements, photosynthesis, seed germination, and agricultural technology. Philip's Academy is the only school in the country to own an AeroFarms System. The system is integrated into the middle school science curriculum and operated by our students.
What is Aeroponics?
Aeroponics is a cutting-edge type of hydroponic technology that grows plants in a mist. The aeroponic mist most efficiently provides roots with the nutrients, hydration and oxygen needed. AeroFarms™ has designed its aeroponic system to reduce water consumption through nutrient re-circulation. Compared to soil-based methods, aeroponics consumes significantly less water due to the aeroponic system's direct application of nutrients to the roots.
AeroFarms has developed a proprietary, reusable cloth medium. The system employs cloth as a conveyor for plants from one end of the aeroponic system where they are seeded to the other end where they are harvested. Cloth has a number of benefits such as durability and reusability, increased cleanliness and sanitation, and the efficient harvest of a dry and clean product.
AeroFarms is pioneering the use of LED (light emitting diode) lighting for growing and vertical farming systems. LEDs have nearly five times more life expectancy than HPS lighting, resulting in a much lower total cost of ownership. LEDs can also be designed in linear and rectangular shapes that enable complete yield uniformity in vertical farming, compared to an HPS bulb that unevenly distributes light to the crop. Another advantage of LEDs is the ability to target specific wavelengths of light. This allows for reduced energy consumption, Integrated Pest Management, and nutritional enhancement of the plants. Lastly, LEDs can be placed much closer to the plants than HPS lights, enabling greater vertical stack-ability of modules.
Integrated Pest Management & Pesticide-Free
Growing indoors changes both pest pressure and the pest environment. Plants are grown in a machine inside the building and not out in the open where they attract pests. The cloth growing medium is sanitized between every growing cycle of 18-21 days. The typical pest cycles of more than 21 days are broken. With a pest-resistant design, pesticides are unnecessary.
Reduced Contamination Risk
By removing soil from the growing of greens, we improve food safety by avoiding completely contaminated manure and irrigation water.
Clean & Dry at Harvest
By growing pesticide-free and without soil, AeroFarms produces greens that are very clean at harvest. While growing clean greens significantly improves food safety, it also improves the shelf life of the produce. The washing of greens after harvest potentially exposes them to bacteria and creates a damp microbial growing environment, which reduces shelf life. By growing greens clean and dry upon harvest, our systems can extend shelf life from the 1-2 weeks to 3-4 weeks for many leafy greens.
We use a closed nutrient method that re-circulates the nutrients to conserve water and utilize all of the minerals
Just as they do on the rooftop garden, students will plant, tend, and harvest what they grow.