Halton Farm Tour showcases high school using innovative farming tech

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Halton Region’s 38th Annual Farm & Food Tour kicked off at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School in Burlington, showcasing some of the exciting, innovative horticultural learning opportunities and resources that are being offered to their students — including a beautiful spacious greenhouse, community garden beds out front, an aquaponics system, and a FarmBot.

FarmBot is an open source fully automated food production system that seeds, weeds, waters and maintains gardens. The robotic system is mounted to a raised bed or similar infrastructure and controlled using an app.

“The FarmBot project began last year as a way to engage students across multiple disciplines and expose them to agriculture in a way that relates to their skills and interests,” John Giusti, a teacher at Notre Dame, tells us. “The FarmBot integrates construction, engineering, computer science, as well as science and horticulture to build, program, plant, and manage crops. This project exposes students to real world challenges and allows them to explore how technology can be used to make agriculture more efficient and economically viable.”

Since the company’s inception in 2016, FarmBot kits have been shipped to more than 1,000 customers in over 65 countries.

Over 400 educational institutions, like Notre Dame, have purchased a kit to engage and inspire young people with growing their own food, and the many other cross-curriculum lessons that come with that.

“Students will understand the importance of applying knowledge in science and technology to help build sustainable food solutions,” explains Alfonso Bozzelli, another Notre Dame teacher. “Students will plan next steps including bringing the FarmBot off grid, and using rain water and solar energy as resources. They will appreciate how the ingredients for their favourite foods are grown, and how best to prepare them to create healthy and delicious meals.”

The students are exposed to the full cycle from seed to plant to table!

“This project will continue to inspire students to apply their knowledge and creative solutions to help resolve the challenges in our industry including food security and sustainability,” shares Allan Nason, Notre Dame teacher.

The FarmBot website explains that it’s well suited to grow a polycrop of many common garden vegetables at the same time, having seen success with crops like bok choy, lettuces, radish, beets, chard, arugula, broccoli and more.

To learn more about the innovative system bringing hyper-local food to student and other people’s fingertips, visit the FarmBot website.