H.L. Johnson Becomes First PBC School Issued Growers Permits

Teacher Julie Highsmith works with students on planting.

H.L. Johnson Elementary School in Royal Palm Beach recently announced the issuance of two Palm Beach County Growers Permits, which will allow them to sell plants grown on campus at local green markets.

The permits are issued by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (UF/IFAS) Palm Beach County Extension office, which conducted an on-site inspection. The Parent Teacher Organization and Team Green at H.L. Johnson coordinated the effort, and now H.L. Johnson is the only Palm Beach County school with a permit, which is valid for one year and can be re-newed.

“Our gardens continue to grow, both outside with the development of a food forest, and inside with the hydroponic lab and germination stations featured in our cafeteria,” H.L. Johnson Principal Dr. Crystal Amado Kucharski said. “This will allow us to expose students to selling plants they grow while raising money to reinvest in the programs, which are offered free to students.”

The hydroponics lab and germination stations give students a real-world application of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) they can’t find in the regular classroom. “Everyone is talking about hydroponics at H.L. Johnson,” Amado said.

H.L. Johnson will make its first appearance on Saturday, April 23 at the Royal Palm Beach Green Market & Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. They will have a variety of small plants available for sale and hope that next season they will have a full harvest to share with the community.

Plans have been made to grow microgreens, leafy vegetables, peppers, tomatoes and other household plants.

Another goal of the project is to expand the number of students involved.

“Our green clubs have become so popular, there are wait lists to participate. We want to eliminate the wait list and get every student involved who is interested,” Amado said.

The addition of the hydroponics lab in the cafeteria and the installation of raised beds, vertical beds and large trees have sparked interest for students who are watching food grow every day.

H.L. Johnson Team Green activities are funded through donations, grants and prizes won for green initiatives at the school.