Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi has become the first school in north Wales to venture into the world of hydroponics or vertical farming. In collaboration with Menter Môn’s agri-tech programme, Tech Tyfu, the installation of the innovative growing system has provided pupils with new learning experiences, teaching them new ways of growing crops without using soil.
The unit was supplied to the school by Tech Tyfu with funds from the AONB Sustainable Development Fund, through Isle of Anglesey Council. Tech Tyfu staff ran a series of sessions with this group of Year 11 students who cared for the crops. The students developed a mixed salad bag product at the end of the sessions with peas hoots and microgreens, which was presented to staff and parents. The scheme allows young people to develop important workplace skills – from entrepreneurship to problem solving and teamwork.
Nia Wyn Roberts is Assistant Headteacher at Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi: “As a school, we’re really lucky to have received this vertical farm unit through the Tech Tyfu scheme. The idea of having a ‘farm’ in an urban school was really interesting, and we learnt about the importance of growing vegetables in a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach.
“We look forward to making full use of the unit across all learning ages and there will be opportunities for pupils to use the products in their catering lessons and learn more about the scientific aspects of the unit. We’re really grateful to the team at Menter Môn for giving our young people this learning opportunity.”
Dr Luke Tyler, Agri-Tech Manager at Menter Môn added: “It’s been a fantastic experience working
with the school delivering these sessions and seeing the reponse of the students to this technology. The students engaged with the project more than we could have expected, proposing their own crops and developing their own product at the end of the sessions. We even had one boy overcome a lifetime dislike of spring onions and enjoy tasting a crop of microleeks!
“Based on the success of this initial work, we have secured further funding to continue this work in two more Ynys Mon schools, and will now be working on developing the vertical farming as part of the curriculum, with the longer intention of expanding the project across north Wales.
“As part of the project, we have produced teaching materials for key stage 2 children to reflect the new curriculum in Wales. The teaching resource include activities and a pack to support teachers. These are currently available free of charge from the Tech Tyfu website.
The Tech Tyfu project itself was launched as a pilot scheme in March 2020, to support farmers and growers in northwest Wales to develop innovative ways of producing crops. The first of it’s kind in north Wales, the scheme has since developed and secured funding to create a Innovation Hub for Tech Tyfu at M-SParc science park in Gaerwen, Anglesey.
Tech Tyfu is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.