>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: Today at the Success
Academy, there’s something new on the menu.>>Devon Sutton: Today, we had subs, and black
eyed peas.>>Maleek Cole: Peas. Oh my gosh. Like, wow, peas. Something new, besides garbage food and stuff
like that.>>Sean Willett: This year, I think almost
all the teachers have committed to the idea that we’re going to do a “Garden to Cafeteria”
this year. And this was our first try, black eyed peas.>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: Was that the first
time you’ve ever eaten anything that you grew yourself?>>Devon Sutton: Yes, sir, the first time. Actually, it taste good.>>Sean Willett: I think what it boils down
to is just, fresh really does taste better. If you pick a piece of corn, and you eat it
that day, it’s better than it is the second day or the third day.>>Maleek Cole: Because I mean, I’m trying
to get by a hundred and fifty. I’m trying to live old, so I gotta start
eating healthy and stuff like that. But it hard, though, it hard.>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: It’s not just about
healthier lunches.>>MIchelle Madison: What is the nitrogen cycle? The new garden to cafeteria program is teaching
students about STEM.>>Sean Willett: Our students for the most
part haven’t been successful in a regular school. And so this is kind of their last, the last
chance to really fix some mistakes. A lot of them, not all, but a lot of them
are behind by one to two years. And to catch up, you’ve got to spend a lot
of time working. You have to do a lot of writing work, a lot
of assignments, a lot of time behind a computer. A lot of time in class, seated, just working. One of the weaknesses that the teachers felt
that the program had was, we weren’t getting the kids out enough. But, one of the challenges we had was, we
can’t waste minutes. Students have to be learning all the time. So we had to do something that included them
getting their hands out and dirty, working.>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: They do get their
hands dirty. But part of their garden doesn’t use soil
at all. It’s powered by fish poop.>>Michelle Madison: I always tell my classes,
in the very beginning I’m like, listen: I am not a farmer. I am a scientist, and I am an engineer. And I run a nonprofit caller Farming the Future. And essentially, what we do is, we build demonstrative
aquaponics systems in schools all over Leon County. And we use that as a tool to teach STEM. [Running Water]>>Michelle: It’s an ecosystem in which plants
and fish grow symbiotically together. And so this is our water reservoir, where
we have some fish in it. The plants are getting this nitrogen rich
water, and those plants are absorbing all of that nitrogen, all of those nutrients. Those plants take out all those nutrients,
and return fresh, clean water back to the fish. But the cool thing about this is that you
can just throw the seeds in here, and it grows. The way that we’ll do it, is, we’ll just
go like this: And so you just make this little – just
like if you were going to plant in the dirt. And you just drop your seeds right in here,
and you cover them up. And then you use a sprayer, using some system
water, and you spray it down. And they grow right out of the gravel as the happiest plants that you’ve ever seen.>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: The primary goal is
scientific education. But Mr. Willet sees additional educational
benefits.>>Sean Willett: The goal is that the kids
are going to be running the whole thing. They’ll pick out the food; they’ll know
when to plant it. They’ll plant it, they’ll let it grow,
they’ll do whatever processes they need to do to serve it to the cafeteria. They’ll promote it. We’re going to really try to do some stuff
to just get kids more involved in doing gardening.>>Michelle Madison: One serving of this produce
is half a cup. So if half a cup weighs, let’s say, 80 grams,
then you have to do the calculation of, all right, “How many grams are in a pound?” How many students do we have? And you have to do those calculations of,
“So how many pounds do we need?”>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: To Michelle, her job
is more than science.>>Michelle Madison: Especially in this school,
a lot of students live in food deserts. And they don’t have access to good, nutritional
food.>>Maleek Cole: Maybe you should cut back on
the prices of how healthy food, how much it costs. ‘Cause it costs a lot. Junk food ain’t really that much, so it’s
like, get something quick and simple. There we go, slide to the McDonalds.>>Michelle Madison: And when they learn how
to do it here, and how easy it is, and actually understand the science behind it, they suddenly
realize, like, “Oh, this isn’t that far out of reach
for me. I can do this.”>>Rob Diaz de Villegas: For WFSU, I’m Rob
Diaz de Villegas.