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Jun. 25, 2013 10:30 am

Sustainability Workshop students win FreshDirect urban farming challenge

Working with a South Jersey farmer that supplies FreshDirect, the students built a garden that they called "Greens in a Box": a shipping container turned greenhouse powered by solar panels.

Sustainability Workshop students with teachers and farmer mentor Bruce Cobb (front row, far right).

Students from the Navy Yard’s alternative project-based high school Sustainability Workshop won The Green Angel Fund, an urban farming challenge sponsored by online grocer FreshDirect, and will present their work at the National Indoor Gardening Expo in San Francisco in late July.

The Sustainability Workshop’s winning hydroponic garden.

For a school that has won major design competitions, this isn’t the most exclusive victory. The Sustainability Workshop tied for first place with the only other school in the competition in this head to head match– Brooklyn’s John V. Lindsay Wildcat Charter School.

Still, the competition was a chance to show off the project-based learning the Sustainability Workshop employs — give students a task and use schooling as a means to accomplish that task.

The challenge, which aimed to raise awareness about inner-city food and farming issues, was to build “the nation’s most innovative hydroponic garden” in three months. The two schools were chosen to participate in the challenge because they are both located in “food deserts,” or areas where the community doesn’t have access to fresh food, a spokeswoman said. (The Sustainability Workshop is an alternative senior year program that will expand into a school this fall.)

Working with a South Jersey farmer that supplies FreshDirect, the students built a garden that they called “Greens in a Box:” a shipping container turned greenhouse powered by solar panels. The garden is heated by LED panels and is currently growing six different kinds of lettuce and three different kinds of basil, according to a press release.

Both Mayor Michael Nutter and Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared June 11, the day of the contest judging, “Urban Farming Education Day.”

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes began as lead reporter at Technically Philly in July 2012. Previously, she was a city services beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, as part of a project called “It’s Our Money.” She is learning to drive, learning to bike (in the city) but is an expert at taking SEPTA. She grew up in North Jersey and Manila, Philippines but she left the tropics for Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in linguistics. She now lives in West Philly.

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