Patti Buchholtz, left, and CRC garden manager Jennifer Preston pose with the tower garden and the plants carefully tended by Mrs. Eades’ fifth-grade class.

Learning gardening in the classroom

CRC students started their seedlings in February 2017 in preparation for planting in the newly donated tower garden with CRC’s garden manager Jennifer Preston. Photos submitted

C. Roy Carmichael Elementary School has been growing in more ways than one over the past school year, and one of those ways has been studying the science of aeroponic gardening in the classroom with Mrs. Eades fifth-grade class.

In the fall of 2016, Clio local Tig Tarlton donated an aeroponic Tower Garden to CRC, after local Patti Buchholtz loaned a tower to the second-grade class in 2014.

“It was a meeting of the minds,” Buchholtz smiled. “It couldn’t have happened without the amazing help of local Heather Grant; she was a major help getting the wheels turning.”

After Tarlton donated the tower garden, PUSD funded the necessary lights and tonic to complete the setup for growing. By February, the 34 students in Eades’ class were paired up and started planting the seeds of their future harvest, with a variety of vegetables ranging from lettuce and kale to a tomato plant.


“We worked on it every other week,” said Jennifer Preston, CRC garden manager. “The kids got to track plant growth, learn about PH levels in water and how the PH affects the plants, and each time the kids would come in to check on their progress, they would be in awe of how fast things were shooting up.”

Aeroponic gardening is beneficial for growing a vast array of plants in a small space, with little maintenance and utilization of 90 percent less water than traditional gardening. Tower gardening boasts a 30 percent faster growth rate than traditional gardening, according to a study done by University of Mississippi.

“This is such a great thing because it provides year-round growing, which is great with our short growing season in Plumas County,” said Preston. “The parents enjoy the harvest that comes home with the kids and the kids enjoy the cross-curricular learning style and being so hands-on with their food.”

In the future, Preston has a vision of multiple tower gardens on campus at CRC; it’s just a matter of getting the funding together. “If anyone would like to help donate towards this goal, please contact me at CRC,” Preston said.


Preston is planning on holding a summer gardening class for CRC students from June to August, with dates still to be determined. If interested in participating, contact Preston by email at [email protected] or call CRC at 832-0211.

For more information on tower gardening, contact Patti Buchholtz at

Tower gardens boast a 30 percent faster growth rate for vegetables, and in this comparison, it is quite easy to see what a difference a month makes using aeroponics. The photo on the left was taken April 20 and the photo on the right was taken May 17.