Designing a program to build, support and harvest a smart aeroponic vertical indoor garden (SAVInG) with students with disabilities at a special education school

M.E. Black
The goal of this project is to develop a new and unique cross-functional vocational educational model for students who have disabilities, with a special focus on autistic people who also have an intellectual disability; to help people with disabilities gain access to employment opportunities in one of the fastest-growing areas of agriculture - alternative farming systems. The employment in this field is expected to grow nationwide by 10% by 2028. This will be accomplished by building a prototype of a vertical garden to be sold to schools and programs serving people who have autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, intellectual disability, schizophrenia, Tourette's syndrome, and other learning disorders. The prototype development will help support the new vocational educational model by delivering training to students with focus areas as follows: 1) building and coding the garden (constructing and configuring the technology to monitor the set parameters); 2) growing and harvesting vegetables in the system including verifying the sensors and levels; 3) scientific experimentation with the system by adjusting the light hours per day, the fertility, the rate of water flow and the pH, to identify the ideal settings for the system. The project involves a variety of job skills. Students are divided based on previous assessments, expressed interests, demonstrated abilities and comfort with tasks. In addition to the potential for future employment, the students will benefit from horticultural therapy through increased self-esteem, emotional growth, reduced stress, and improved social skills.
Black, M.E. (2021). Designing a program to build, support and harvest a smart aeroponic vertical indoor garden (SAVInG) with students with disabilities at a special education school. Acta Hortic. 1330, 99-114
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1330.12
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1330.12
hydroponics, horticultural vocation, arduino, autism, employment, construction
English

Acta Horticulturae