Students at Laramie High School build a hydroponic vertical farm known as a grow wall.

A grow wall is an innovative form of agriculture where space and soil are conserved. 

Students at LHS are researching new and innovative solutions to problems, like the grow wall, in Stem Lab, a high-level science class. 

The teacher of Stem Lab Jacob Greenlee is leading this agricultural experiment which is being worked on by several students. 

“It is hydroponic, so it uses water and nutrients in the water to circulate. It does not use any soil. It Is a vertical grow wall that uses recycled water. It is pretty self-sustaining and low maintenance,” Greenlee said.

There are several fruits and vegetables being grown in the grow wall, such as basil, arugula, strawberries, and cilantro. 

Greenlee believes that this grow wall is teaching an important life skill: knowing how to farm and grow plants will be a skill that students can use their whole life. 

“It is important to have skills to farm themselves, and to incorporate new technologies that are becoming more prevalent,” Greenlee said.

Greenlee hopes to get a grant within the next month in order to fund this experiment and go further, and will hope to look at atmospheric conditions between grow walls indoors versus no grow walls, such as the growing rate between conventional farming and innovative vertical farming. 

“Holland, while it is a small country, produces a massive portion of the European food supply using these hydroponic farming techniques, because in mass production, Grow Walls take up less space than conventional farming,” Greenlee said.

Hydroponic farms are much more predictable because the entire environment is controlled, since it is mainly indoors, humidity, weather and nutrient supply are all consistent. 

Dane Oliver, a senior at LHS, is a student at Stem Lab and one of the leaders in the hydroponic experiment.

While it isn’t a brand-new cutting-edge technology because it is already widespread used, it is still a resource and topic that students are excited to explore. 

“I believe that it could replace certain orthodox ways of farming, but not all ways, because there are certain plants that don’t do very well in hydroponic set ups, such as root-based plants like carrots don’t do very well in a system with no soil. Other leaf-based plants with little root systems, such as lettuce, do very well in this specific environment.” Oliver said. 

Dane Oliver is also working in Stem Lab to study the cost-effectiveness of putting solar panels on the roof of LHS, by experimenting on the day-hours and the wattage that the school would get daily if solar were installed. 

While right now it might be an experiment for Oliver, other students such as Samuel Miller, another senior at LHS, are working on making this solar panel project a reality in order to lower the energy cost of the school. 

This solar panel project could also be used for the hydroponic setup in order to make it entirely self-sufficient, with no negative effects.