CONKLIN, N.Y. (WIVT/WBGH) – With the help of Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Health Department, local high school students are gardening in school and at home.

Susquehanna Valley High School students are learning how to plant, germinate, and cultivate their own vegetables.

FACs teacher Jessica Esperon-Meneilly says she previously applied for Hydroponic Grow Towers for her classroom but was unsuccessful. Through a connection with CCE last year, SV received a grant from the Broome County health department to purchase the grow towers, allowing students in her class to begin an indoor garden. She says the gardening towers empower her students to make their own choices.

“So, I think as learners, we come to this and embrace that educational opportunity to be able to pick these things, but it doesn’t become real until they have the chance to take that preparation and put it into their own practice. So, they became incredibly proud and took ownership of not just our hydroponic grow towers, but our future garden in the courtyard and their future gardens at home,” said Esperon-Meneilly.

Esperon-Meneilly says her students are responsible for caring for their plants throughout every step of the growing process. Most of the students have never gardened before. Senior Gianna Palmer says she was a new gardener and now, her sunflower has grown as tall as her.

“It made me proud to see just how much the plant itself has grown like starting from a little seed, going into such a big plant. It was kind of amazing actually to watch it all happen right in front of me, day by day,” said Palmer.

“We got to bring them home, I got to bring them into my own garden. I learned how to grow; it was really fun. It’ll save me a lot of money because I get to grow my own plants. I grew a watermelon; it was really sweet. It was mad good, and it was really fun, and I think everyone should do it,” said Luke Lucas, a senior at Susquehanna Valley High School.

The students are already preparing for future plantings and are currently harvesting vegetables planted over the summer.

Similar gardens were previously planted at the district’s two elementary schools.