HWT Primary taps into green roof system

Observer writer

Thursday, April 04, 2019

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IN an effort to make up for the lack of green space on its compound, Half-Way-Tree Primary School is looking to its rooftop to plant crops.

The initiative is dubbed “Project Green”. The institution's principal, Carol O'Connor Clarke, told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview that it was science teacher Matthew Taylor's idea to plant vegetation on the school's rooftop.

“Project Green's aim is to grow plants on the rooftop of the institution to make ourselves self-sufficient, to educate students [about] how to grow crops efficiently and how they can use them to improve their health,” she said.

O'Connor Clarke said that when Taylor spoke to her about the initiative she fully supported it.

“He came to me with the idea and I said, 'I'm with you and the school will give you the support',” the principal said.

Taylor, who is also the coordinator for the science club at the school, explained that he was inspired by the green roof systems in Tokyo.

“The idea came from the system in Tokyo, where they were running out of green spaces because they were constructing too many buildings and the oxygen levels were being depleted.

“To resolve this issue, they decided to plant a lot of plants on their buildings, which resulted in more cloud coverage, increased rainfall and the oxygen levels returning to Tokyo,” Taylor told the Observer.

At present, a wide range of plants, including pineapples, sweet pepper, fern, aloe vera and Bermuda Palm, are being grown on the school's rooftop.

Some of the crops are grown hydroponically, in trays that consist of 30 slots, using mineral-nutrient solutions in water.

O'Connor Clarke told the Observer that the initiative was implemented after the school won the 2018 Kiwanis Clubs of North and Eastern St Andrew climate change project.

She said the competition required that participating primary schools come up with creative ways to reduce the effects of climate change and mitigate the risks.

“We achieved first-place ranking and... were awarded $35,000 for our efforts. We used the funds received to purchase a hydroponic system,” the principal said.

Taylor added that he would strongly advise other schools to implement a green roof system.

“I would advise other schools to take on this project because it is fulfilling the syllabus in the form of PEP (Primary Exit Profile), where students are asked to think critically.

“One area where one has to think critically is farming, where you have to look at weather patterns, learn how to grow crops in different weather conditions, and decide which crops are most appropriate to grow on the roof,” he said.

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