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Archives for November 19, 2015

Kirkland’s rapid-transit plan along corridor draws opposition

The gravel bicycle and pedestrian trail along the old Eastside Rail Corridor runs almost six miles across Kirkland, passing through eight of the city’s 13 neighborhoods and through landscapes that vary from wooded hillsides to the sports courts and gleaming offices of the Google campus.

Plans for the Cross Kirkland Corridor, city officials say, have always included adding high-capacity transit to the 100-foot right of way alongside the existing bicycle trail. But their suggestion to get paved bus lanes on the route added to the Sound Transit 3 project list is stirring opposition among residents who want the trail to remain a natural parkway like the Burke-Gilman Trail.

They argue that Interstate 405 is the better route for buses and that the trail, which opened in January, should be preserved as an urban refuge from traffic and congestion, particularly as the city grows.

Community meeting

The city of Kirkland will present ideas for adding bus rapid transit to the Cross Kirkland Corridor and answer questions.

When: 6:30-9 p.m. Thursday

Where: Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave.

“People have been taken aback by what is seen as an attempt to take away a greenbelt — in essence a park — in favor of paving two more lanes of bus expressway,” said Rob Butcher, a resident who edits a local blog, Kirkland Views, and says letters from residents are running strongly against the plans.

The city will host a community meeting Thursday evening at the Kirkland Performance Center to present transit options and answer questions. The city’s vision includes two paved lanes east of the existing bike trail to be built by Sound Transit, with buses running every two to three minutes at rush hour.

The city would redevelop the remaining 70-foot right of way to include paved bike and pedestrian trails, play areas, fountains, art work, public gathering spaces and landscaping.

It’s a high-end vision, more New York City’s High Line than Seattle’s Burke-Gilman Trail, acknowledged City Manager Kurt Triplett.

And it has a high-end price — an estimated $70 million to $90 million. The City Council approved the corridor master plan in 2014.

The Kirkland corridor is the longest stretch to open so far on the 42-mile Eastside Rail Corridor from abandoned BNSF tracks that ran from Renton to Snohomish.

For the Thursday meeting, Triplett said the city is “in a listening mode” and knows that the trail has been immensely popular.

“We’ve heard the community’s concerns about noise, about safety and pollution if we add buses to the corridor. Our message on Thursday is, ‘we care about these things, too.’ ”

He said any transit option has to fit Kirkland, and he argued buses could be running sooner and at less expense than light rail, and be able to connect residents and workers to Redmond, Bellevue and Seattle.

Ultimately, he said, Sound Transit holds a high-capacity transit easement to the corridor.

“This is really not a Kirkland decision. This is a Sound Transit decision. It’s also not a good option if Sound Transit just passes us by,” Triplett said.

The Legislature this year authorized a Sound Transit 3 tax package of up to $15 billion that could go to voters in November 2016. The agency so far has more proposals for expanding transit in the region than funding. That’s left individual cities competing to get their top projects on the list.

Kirkland is already planning for significant growth in the Totem Lake area at the north end of the corridor where it expects to add 20,000 employees and 4,000 residents by 2035. Google plans to double its space and add up to 1,000 more employees, according to the city.

Another big redevelopment project is under way at the Parkplace shopping center just east of downtown that will add three office buildings, 225,000 square feet of retail space and 300 apartments.

Bill Pollard, managing principal of Talon Private Capital, which will break ground in January on the Parkplace project, said with the city’s arterials already congested, adding transit is essential to compete with Bellevue and Seattle, which both have more commuting options.

“We want any form of north-south transportation we can get. We have to keep up on the transit side to attract the tenants we want,” he said.

Kirkland City Councilmember Toby Nixon cast the lone no vote in September to spend $250,000 on a consultant to develop concepts and cost estimates for bus rapid transit on the corridor.

He notes that the projected growth in the Totem Lake area is still two decades out and the Cross Kirkland Corridor today doesn’t go downtown and doesn’t pass many employment centers.

“How many folks from Google are going to ride bus rapid transit? It doesn’t go where they live and they won’t want to make three changes and walk half a mile at the end,” Nixon said.

Many residents are dismayed at the thought of losing the tranquillity of the trail.

Karen Story, chair of the Highlands Neighborhood Association and a volunteer steward at Cotton Hill Park, which backs onto the Cross Kirkland Corridor, participated in the development of the corridor’s master plan.

She said she knew it could one day be used for light rail, but said that possibility was always in the distant future.

“If the trail is widened to accommodate transit,” she said, “we’ll lose a lot of natural areas. Growing cities need green spaces, for the environment, for physical and spiritual health. As Kirkland grows, preserving the trail becomes even more important.”

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Murals helping Utica’s Bagg’s Square rebrand itself

Posted Nov. 19, 2015 at 2:42 PM


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Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park – Omaha World

Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park

Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park

The City of Papillion hosted a Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans Park on Nov. 11. The ceremony included guest speakers, music and the unveiling of two honor walls.

Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park

Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park

Cliff Pratt, a member of American Legion Post No. 32 and a World War II veteran, speaks during a ceremony at Veterans Park Nov. 11. Pratt shared his story with an audience of nearly 500 people.

Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park

Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park

Two honor walls were unveiled in Veterans Park on Veterans Day. A ceremony also featured guest speaker Cliff Pratt, a World War II veteran.

Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park

Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park

Michael Borden, left, and Mike Reimers unveil an honor wall in Papillion’s Veterans Park during a Veterans Day ceremony. The walls feature names of veterans with Sarpy County ties.

Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park

Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park

Members of American Legion Post No. 32 perform a military salute during a Veterans Day ceremony in Papillion’s Veterans Park. The ceremony also included guest speakers and the unveiling of honor walls.

Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2015 1:00 am

Veterans Day ceremony unveils newest project in park

By Kelsey Stewart / Times Managing Editor

The Omaha World-Herald

What started as something small in then-Triangle Park has blossomed into something much larger.

Now, the park — at East Halleck and South Monroe streets — has become a place with meaning for area veterans.

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      Thursday, November 19, 2015 1:00 am.

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      Disputed NYU Expansion Sites Now Permanent Parks To Be Renovated By NYU

      The redesign of LaGuardia Park (existing state inset) involves widening the pathways and repaving them with hexagonal tiles.
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      GREENWICH VILLAGE — Some of the swaths of land at the heart of the legal battle over New York University‘s expansion are now officially parkland, officials confirmed.

      For more than a year, opponents of NYU’s expansion argued that green spaces on Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place — Mercer Playground, LaGuardia Park and LaGuardia Corner Gardens — while not officially mapped by the city as parks, were “implied parkland” and therefore could not be used as anything other than a park without permission from the state legislature.

      The opponents ultimately lost their fight earlier this year when the Court of Appeals said they failed to prove that the owners of the land — in this case, the Department of Transportation — had done or said “decisive” or “unmistakable” things indicating an intent to make the strips permanent parks.

      Regardless of the legal decision, some of the strips are, in fact, becoming permanent parks. Last month, DOT turned parcels that include Mercer Playground and LaGuardia Park over to the Department of Parks and Recreation.

      The transfer was part of the deal the City Council struck with NYU in 2012 authorizing the school’s plan to build new academic space and other facilities on two “superblocks” south of Washington Square Park, bordered by LaGuardia Place and Mercer Street.

      City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, whose efforts facilitated the NYU deal, hailed the transfer, which occurred last month, as “a major victory for proponents of a greener Greenwich Village.”

      Under the plan, NYU is required to renovate and maintain the Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place edges of the “north block,” between West Third and Bleecker streets, an arrangement that NYU spokesman John Beckman said was “intended to benefit the local community and city.”

      The city’s Public Design Commission approved a design in October for the LaGuardia Place stretch between West Third and Bleecker streets, which includes LaGuardia Park.

      The design is the result of more than two years of work by Napach Design Group and Nina Kramer Landscape Architecture, with input from the Parks Department and an independent committee with representatives from Community Board 2, the Manhattan Borough President, Chin and NYU.

      Napach previously designed performance space for the school at 35 West Fourth St., and Kramer designed the NYU Law School residence entry court along Mercer Street, a brownstone garden for NYU on Bethune Street, as well as landscaping for Tudor City and a redesign of Arthur Ashe Plaza in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

      The design for LaGuardia Place, which includes LaGuardia Park, keeps the existing trees and the statue of Fiorello LaGuardia, widens the existing pathways and repaves them with hexagonal tiles to match the ones in Adrienne’s Garden, a playground that opened in 2013 and is nestled mid-block, and adds curved metal benches, also like the ones in Adrienne’s Garden.

      A design for Mercer Street, which includes the Mercer Playground, has not yet been presented to the Public Design Commission.

      Parks Department Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro praised Chin and community advocates for securing the parkland.

      “It’s great to see Council Member Chin’s and community advocacy result in mapping these properties parkland,” Castro said in a statement. “In conjunction with DOT and NYU, NYC Parks will further enhance the public realm by caring for this additional greenspace.”

      The renovation of the LaGuardia Place greenspace is expected to begin next month, NYU officials said.

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      Laguna High rain garden offers students vocational training lab

      Hands on learning

      Hands on learning

      Laguna High School students plant drought resistant, native vegetation in the campus’ new rain garden, at the heart of the campus.

      Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 4:10 pm

      Laguna High rain garden offers students vocational training lab

      by Tony Landucci
      Sonoma West Staff Writer

      Sonoma West Times and News


      Water system teaches hands-on skills and envionmental awareness

      Students at Laguna High School in Sebastopol are getting a practical lesson on dealing with drought conditions and water pollution while, at the same time, gaining valuable vocational skills. This somewhat new program is getting students out of the classroom and into the garden for a more holistic approach to environmental science.

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          Wednesday, November 18, 2015 4:10 pm.

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          Rob Lowe Grinds Out Tax Win Over $25 Million Home Sale

          Rob Lowe Grinds Out Tax Win Over $25 Million Home Sale

          By Laura Mahoney

          Nov. 18 — Actor Rob
          Lowe and his wife, Sheryl Berkoff, scored a partial victory from
          the State Board of Equalization in their dispute over taxable gain
          on the $25 million sale in 2005 of a “trophy home” they built in an
          exclusive area of Santa Barbara, Calif.

          Appearing before the five-member elected board, Lowe
          and Berkoff argued that the basis in their home in Montecito,
          Calif., was $13.5 million, while the Franchise Tax Board said it
          was closer to $7 million. The board voted 5-0 on Nov. 17 to set the
          basis at $11.36 million on a motion from Member Diane Harkey

          The approved basis, which Harkey reached by adding
          up the purchase price, expenses and fees, landscaping and
          construction costs, means Lowe and Berkoff had more gain on the $25
          million sale than the $10.1 million they reported on their original
          federal tax return, but less than the FTB alleged.

          The $714,686 in tax that the FTB said the Lowes
          owed, based on their underreported gain on the sale of the home,
          will be reduced to reflect the adjusted basis amount. The FTB also
          agreed to drop a $178,671 penalty for failure to furnish
          information in a case that was largely based on estimates because
          many original records weren’t available.

          ‘I Am Not a Liar.’

          At the start of the two-hour hearing, Lowe said he
          and his wife were unable to provide all documentation for the
          amounts they spent on the extensive project that began in 1998,
          partly because records were lost when his former accountant
          suffered a computer crash in 2002.

          He argued that it would be impossible to build such
          a trophy home, featured in Architectural Digest magazine in July
          2001, for “anything close” to what the FTB was claiming and pointed
          out that the IRS didn’t question his basis numbers.

          “Respectfully, I am not a liar,” said Lowe, known
          for movies such as “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “Wayne’s World,” and roles
          on TV shows “The West Wing,” “Parks and Recreation” and, currently,
          “The Grinder.” “We ask you to accept our return as filed.”

          FTB Tax Counsel Sonia Woodruff told the board that
          the case wouldn’t be coming before them if Lowe and Berkoff spent
          the amount of money they claimed and had the documents to prove it.
          Much of the documentation provided was duplicative, meaning the
          basis amount asserted by Lowe and Berkoff counted some of the same
          expenses multiple times.

          “Six million dollars changed hands without a trace,”
          Woodruff said. “This case is not about whether the appellants built
          a high-end, beautiful home. Nobody disputes that.”

          English Manor House

          Before voting on the case, the board members heard
          conflicting arguments from Woodruff and the couple’s attorney, Mark
          Bernsley, about which appraisals, reports, attestations and
          estimates most accurately reflected the costs Lowe and Berkoff
          incurred in building the home.

          The home was built in the style of an old English
          manor house, with a separate pool house, conservatory and
          meticulously landscaped gardens, according to the SBOE Appeals
          Division summary of the case prepared for the board members.

          Bernsley, an attorney in Woodland Hills, Calif.,
          told Bloomberg BNA in a Nov. 18 e-mail that his clients are
          weighing their options.

          “The board essentially agreed with the validity of
          the Lowes’ return,” Bernsley said. “We are examining the details of
          the ruling and weighing future options.”

          The decision will become final after the board
          approves a written decision within 120 days. Because more than
          $500,000 was at issue in the case, the SBOE is required to issue a
          written decision that includes a statement of the legal issues
          presented, applicable law, analysis and disposition of the case and
          the names of the members who concur.

          To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Mahoney
          in Sacramento, Calif., at

          To contact the editor responsible for this story:
          Ryan Tuck at

          For More Information 


          Try Daily Tax Report now

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          Top tips for gardeners — from stroking seedlings to stacking logs

          I spent the summer of 1976 working as a trainee gardener at the Arboretum Kalmthout in Belgium. My employer was charming and kind, but I could not suppress a prickle of shame-faced irritation every time she mentioned a former student called Susan Dickinson. Whenever I leant on my hoe for a moment in the pelting heat, I was reminded how accomplished and hardworking this horticultural superheroine had been. For the past 25 years, Sue Dickinson has been head gardener at Eythrope in Buckinghamshire, owned by Lord Rothschild, and she is widely acknowledged to be the finest gardener in the country. I need never have wasted finite energy on envy.

          The four-acre walled garden at Eythrope is the subject of Paradise and Plenty, published by Pimpernel Press (£50). It is written by Mary Keen, most appropriately, since she designed the garden, and it is a handsome volume, both coffee-table book and practical manual. Eythrope is laid out on a heroic scale, and cultivated by eight gardeners in the old country-house manner, providing fruit, vegetables and flowers for the house all the year round. It is open very rarely but, on the two occasions I have visited, my heart beat fast with admiration at the quality of the gardening done there, in particular the astonishingly skilful cultivation of glasshouse fruits. There is simply nowhere to touch it.

          The photographs by Tom Hatton are monochrome when showing some intricate horticultural operation, but colour when portraying the garden itself. Flaps show the garden under snow, then open to reveal the same view in summer. You can absorb a great deal of well-tried practical gardening advice from this attractively written book, but the dedication of a Susan Dickinson is not so easily acquired.

          Claim your gift

          Nor that of Joan Morgan. She is an expert pomologist, whose The Book of Apples (1993) is still the Bible for all connoiseurs of apples and — at last — she has produced a companion volume, The Book of Pears (Ebury Press, £45). All the features of the first are to be found in the second: the pear’s history, cultivation and commercial uses, together with brilliantly clear, precise and useful descriptions of every cultivar known to orchardists, and equally precise and alluring botanical paintings by Elizabeth Dowle. The pear is less known than the apple, and its naming and culture more complicated and arcane, so the publication of this most readable book is a cause for celebration.

          The May display at the auricula theatre, Eythrope

          Grow for Flavour by James Wong (Mitchell Beazley, £20) also has something unusual and original to offer in the edible produce line. Most of this highly illustrated book consists of tips on how to get the most flavourful crops, using the best varieties and cultivation methods. Wong rides a bike, rolls up his sweater sleeves, and writes colloquially, so you can tell he’s a cool dude aiming to inform other cool dudes. He is open-minded and curious, cosmopolitan and modern. He is also a professional botanist, who understands the science of nutrition and flavour, and has bothered to look hard at the evidence, and do the vital trials. By the end of the book you should know about pluots, apriums and samphire, as well as the advantages of stroking your seedling lettuces, watering transplanted trees with a sugar solution and collecting wild fennel pollen.

          Garden photography and its reproduction have never been better, and Nick Bailey, curator at the Chelsea physic garden, has taken advantage of this in 365 Days of Colour in Your Garden (Kyle Books, £25), collaborating with the award-winning photographer Jonathan Buckley to produce a bright, useful gazetteer of suitable plants. ‘Colour all year round’ is, of course, a chimera, but Bailey points us some way towards that holy grail. He is especially good on colour theory, how to extend flowering seasons and good plant pairings.

          Another award-winning photographer, Andrew Lawson, has captured the gardens of Oxford colleges to accompany Tim Richardson’s elegant prose in Oxford College Gardens (Frances Lincoln, £40). These Pembroke men make a dream team, since Lawson has a true and careful eye while Richardson is a most thoughtful and intelligent writer on landscape, gardens and garden history. Almost all the college gardens get respectful treatment, even the ones which really don’t deserve such cultured attention, but the best — Worcester, St John’s, Magdalen and New College — look wonderful.

          For all the quality of these books, I’ve had as much pleasure from reading Lars Mytting’s Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way, translated by Robert Ferguson (MacLehose, £20). Our response to firewood is both atavistic and aesthetic, so the attraction of these activities is compelling. How much more so in Norway, where temperatures get so low in winter, and there are so many trees. Written in a pleasant, easy style, this book is brim full with ‘I never knew that’ gems: the frames of Morgan cars are made of ash, and during the war there were enormous woodpiles in Helsinki’s central square. There are pictures of woodstacks built in the shape of fish and even in the likeness of the composer Rossini. Mytting understands perfectly the reassuring continuity, as well as the beauty and usefulness of trees, both dead and alive. I now know how to stack properly the wood cut from ash trees I planted 20 years ago; this knowledge has enriched my life.

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          Vegetable Garden Tips: 7 Vegetables That Constantly Re-grows



          NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE OR PAYMENT WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. The Giveaway is sponsored by Pleroma Media Inc., 42 Broadway, Suite 12-235, New York, NY 10004 (“Sponsor”). The Giveaway is void where prohibited or restricted by all applicable law, and all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.  Winners are responsible for any taxes, customs, and duties and like amounts connected with the prizes.

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          One (1) Prize per Giveaway Period:An Apple Watch Sport™, which is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. Approximate Retail Value: $349. Limit one (1) prize per person/household. No substitution, transfer, or cash equivalent for any prize, except that Sponsor, at its sole discretion, may substitute a prize with a prize of equal value, due to unavailability of advertised prize. Each prize will be awarded provided each prize is properly claimed. The prize will be shipped by Sponsor to the winners within 1-5 weeks of the receipt of a signed affidavit for approved entries. Prize winners are responsible for all taxes and fees related to any prize received. Actual retail value of prizes may vary due to market conditions. The difference in value of prize as stated herein and value at time of prize notification, if any, will not be awarded.

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          8.  PUBLICITY AND RELEASE FORMS: Sponsor reserves the right to use the Giveaway for publicity purposes in any media, and to use the name, likeness, and hometown name and/or prize information of prize winners as part of that publicity, without any compensation or prior review, unless prohibited by law. Each prize winner will be required to submit a declaration and a liability/publicity release and confirmation that the prize winner has followed the rules of the Giveaway, in the form supplied by Sponsor (the “Declaration and Release”), and signed by the prize winner. The Declaration and Release must be signed and returned within seven (7) days of notification. Prize won by an eligible entrant who is a minor in his/her state of residence will be awarded to minor’s parent or legal guardian who must sign and return all required documents. In the event the Affidavit and Release is not returned within this period, an alternate winner may be selected for such prize. Any prize notification or prize returned to Sponsor as undeliverable will result in the awarding of that prize to an alternate winner (who will be required to comply with similar procedures).

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          #WayCoolWednesday – George Washington Academy students design, build …

          The goals for the seventh- and eighth-grade science students in Kent Schwager’s class at George Washington Academy were simple. Create a hydroponic garden requiring the least amount of money for materials; create one that required the least amount of time and resources to operate; and create one that utilized the most sustainable greenhouse principles.

          More than a couple dozen students took on the challenge with a variety of designs using materials provided for them by their science teacher or brought from home. In the end a partnership of two seventh-grade students took the grand prize.

          MyKela Hansen, a seventh grader from St. George, andBuy PhotoKent Schwager, seventh- and eighth-grade science teacherBuy PhotoA water pump circulates water in a hydroponic gardenBuy PhotoKent Schwager, seventh- and eighth-grade science teacherBuy PhotoMyKela Hansen, a seventh-grader at George WashingtonBuy PhotoA student is Kent Schwager's science class walks pastaBuy PhotoMyKela Hansen and Charley Holt, seventh-graders atBuy PhotoA boneyard of remaining supplies and vegetable plantsBuy PhotoMyKela Hansen and Charley Holt, seventh-graders atBuy PhotoA boneyard of remaining supplies sits on one of theBuy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoA bag of fertilizer sits on the asphalt of the schoolyardBuy PhotoA student works on a hydroponic garden project in aBuy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoA student works on a hydroponic garden project in aBuy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoA boneyard of remaining supplies sits on one of theBuy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoHydroponic projects circulate water and catch solarBuy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoHydroponic projects circulate water and catch solarBuy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoHydroponic projects circulate water and catch solarBuy PhotoStudents work on hydroponic garden projects in a seventh-Buy PhotoHydroponic projects circulate water and catch solarBuy PhotoA student works on a hydroponic garden project in aBuy PhotoA boneyard of remaining supplies sits on one of theBuy PhotoA student works on a hydroponic garden project in aBuy PhotoA student works on a hydroponic garden project in aBuy PhotoThe quote on the door  of the CTE/Science classroomBuy Photo

          MyKela Hansen, a student from St. George, and Charley Holt, a student from Washington City, harnessed solar energy to operate a water pump that circulated nutrient-enriched water through a plastic storage tote that housed vegetable garden plants floating on an island constructed using styrofoam blocks and plastic drinking cups.

          A large opening was cut into the lid and piece of clear plastic from a discount-store shower curtain was added to provide greenhouse light and warmth and protect the plants from potential garden pests.

          Schwager told students that their prototypes needed to be created with materials costing $30 total or less.

          Hansen and Holt explained to me how their design came under that budgeted amount with money to buy fish to add for self-sustaining fertilization of the plants.

          The girls estimate that their project can be built for $10-$20. Here’s a breakdown of the estimated budget for materials.

          •Tote. They started with a plastic tote donated (free from donations to the science lab); I found 10-gallon totes ranged in the $10-15, but Hansen and Holt estimate the tote they used could be purchased for as little as $3.

          •Styrofoam cubes. The styrofoam cubes could easily be obtained from a recycling center, Hansen said. Note, these girls used the cubes in their design, but designs from other students did not use them.

          •Solar-powered water pump. The size of solar pump that they used would cost $8, Holt said.

          • Shower curtain. The shower curtain plastic they found at home, but could be purchased at a discount store for $1. (This material seemed to be only used by Holt and Hansen’s design).

          • Plants or seeds. Gardening seeds they estimate would cost $5.

          • Plastic cups. A set of these could be purchased at a dollar store for $1.

          • Water soluble fertilizer. The girls estimate the fertilizer used would cost them about $5.

          Based on Hansen’s and Holt’s estimates, they could build their project for about $23, though their project cost them less to build because some materials were already available in the science lab or found at home.

          This leaves them $7 that they could use to purchase fish from a discount pet store for a $1 a fish. That would let them buy 6 to 7 fish.

          To build their design they cut a large hole in the plastic tote lid to let in sunlight. The cut a piece of shower curtain to fit snugly underneath the tote lid. Inside they took the foam blocks and cut space for the plastic cups which house the plants with little soil used in the project.

          They found a way to attach the solar-powered pump and tubing inside the the container and the solar panel was attached to the fence outside their school.

          When asked why it’s important to learn about hydroponic gardens, Holt said, “It’s super fun. It’s fun to plant a garden, to know how to grow a garden.”

          “It’s good to be prepared,” Hansen added.

          “It’s good to have healthy food,” Holt said. “And it’s good to not have to go to the grocery store. You can grow food in your backyard in your garden.”

          And hydroponic gardens can easily be adapted to indoor spaces as well.

          There are cost advantages to knowing how to do them said Hansen, “It can save you money. You can learn about plants and how to grow a garden.”

          Hansen and Holt represented the best of the tote container designs, but numerous other projects utilized networks of PVC pipes and large plastic buckets for circulating the water past spaces cut out for plants in the structure.

          The students were free to think of their own designs and figure out the challenges as they came.

          Schwager works as a teacher to keep his guidance to a minimum where possible to allow the students to make mistakes and problem solve. He adds guidance as requested but his response to challenges is to encourage students to think through the problem.

          “The class motto is: ‘Think’,” Schwager said. “I try not a give a lot of instruction.”

          He said he was impressed with his students’ problem solving skills and explained that project-based learning such as this helps students be better science students.

          The hands-on learning reinforces the ideas and principles the students are learning in science class, he said.

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          How to design your garden, with help from award-winning John Brookes

          “You need to be accurate on door proportions – and where the windows are.

          “Think too about using your garden from inside visually – winter can be very long and a special flowering tree for this time, suitably placed, can be very uplifting.

          “But thinking about the view and the planting takes us into the third dimension, which is that of height.”

          Trees, shrubs and climbing plants may improve your privacy, if there is no view, but there is a fourth dimension – time – says Brookes: “Do not forget that plants grow – particularly trees and shrubs.”

          Brookes advises against choosing plants simply because of their flowers: “Flowering doesn’t go on forever and really the ultimate height of a plant and its form and foliage colour are equally important, as they form the bones of your garden and the backdrop to your colour.”

          You will need to know your soil type, whether it is acid or alkaline (testing kits are available at garden centres) to know which plants will thrive in your soil.

          Whether a flower bed is sunny or shady should also dictate your choice of plants, which you can draw onto your plan before buying anything – starting with the larger plants.

          “Show the width of the bed you propose and draw in circles for the plants you propose,” says Brookes.

          “Plant large shrubs such as cotoneaster, pyracanthus and viburnum, at roughly 1.5 metres apart, and condition yourself to buy more than one of this and one of that to avoid a spotty effect.

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