Ambler Savings Bank is well accustomed to encouraging investment growth. But that outlook took on a different character with its recent donation of $35,000 to Methacton High School. Yes, it’s hoping to see a yield; however, this one is meant to be edible, not accounted on a ledger.
The funds supported the high school students’ work with hydroponic farming. This soil-less approach to agriculture enables plants to thrive in a variety of settings not ordinarily considered fertile.
Like a shipping crate.
Methacton’s high-tech farmers are cultivating lettuce, herbs, cucumbers, and tomatoes by replacing dirt with a mineral-rich water system. LED lighting further encourages growth, speeding the plants’ progress from seed to harvest to just seven weeks.
The educational effort is one of the School’s new STEM Innovation Labs, part of its Environmental Science and Biology curriculum.
A select group of six students are part of the pioneer team and have been into this high-tech farming since January.
Their enthusiasm, like their crops, has taken root. More than 70 students have now requested the class for next fall.
Harvesting the Enthusiasm
Steve Savitz (Science Department Chair) and Jeremy Walton (Biology Teacher) started with this idea three years ago. Now, seeing the harvest brought to life has been rewarding beyond what they imagined. Methacton is the first school in Pa. with this state-of-the-art greenery farming system.
“When we had the idea for this project, we weren’t sure it was even possible. So, to see it become a reality is incredible. It’s thanks to the strength of our Education Foundation and donations like the one from Ambler Savings Bank that brought it to life,” said Savitz.
The farm has an impact reaching into the community, too. Food is distributed in multiple channels, to students, teachers, the Daily Bread Food Pantry and soon, to businesses.
“Teaching the business applications of farming is another important part. We are making plans to sell the greens to local restaurants,” Savitz noted.
Total cost for the lab was nearly $175,000, funded by the Methacton Education Foundation.
“Seeing the excitement from our students and the cross-curriculum educational opportunities this provides is exactly what it’s all about,” Shannon Peffer, Vice President, Methacton Education Foundation.
Several seniors in the class have decided to pursue environmental science in the fall at college.
“Experiential learning is the way of the future and we are proud to support what Methacton is doing with the Hydroponic Farm,” commented Roger Zacharia, President and CEO, Ambler Savings Bank.
About Ambler Savings Bank: Ambler Savings Bank is a mutually organized community bank headquartered in Ambler, Pennsylvania with locations in Fairview Village, Limerick, and Bally, as well as several continuing care retirement facilities. Learn more online.