Conservation Grow Tower

Conservation Student Leads Hydroponics Project
Posted on 06/06/2023

Lily Piersall, a senior in the CTE Conservation program, spearheaded a new hydroponics initiative at MOBOCES this spring.

Lily, Camden student, built a new grow tower on her own in the classroom lab space, planted lettuce, basil and chard, and harvested the leaves throughout the spring semester.

“I’m the only one in the class with the patience to do this,” she said. “But they all like to eat the lettuce. They’ll come in every day for breakfast. It is pretty good, and we got a lot more than I thought we would.”

The grow tower was purchased through a $50,000 Farm to School grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, secured by MOBOCES to support an expansion of agriculture education projects across the region. The grant also funded two additional projects for her Conservation class – an expansion of the classroom aquaponics system and the addition of a FarmBot and on-campus vegetable garden. Those projects will continue into the next school year.

Horticulture was one of Lily’s favorite aspects of the two-year Conservation program and she happily took ownership over the grow tower project. She has worked with her mother at home for many years caring for vegetables, herbs and flowers.

“I like growing things. I like being outside. I like taking care of plants and getting to eat what I grow,” she said, noting that her senior year internship was at a greenhouse in Rome.

She plans to study Environmental Science at MVCC next year and eventually transfer into SUNY ESF. She is thinking about a horticulture-related career with the state Department of Environment Conservation, and maybe having her own greenhouse someday.

See below on our website for additional photos of Lily maintaining the grow tower, Hamilton's tower garden, and Madison students planting fruit trees -- all funded through the Farm to School grant.