Zamora is executive director of New York Sun Works, a nonprofit organization that brings hydroponic labs to urban schools.
“The idea is to bring this hands-on opportunity to the classroom, to teach science and sustainability education through the lens of urban farming,” she said.
She said that type of education is especially important now because climate change will affect current and future generations. Students should be the next stewards of the environment and the planet.
“They will also be connecting into larger issues, such as pollution, contamination, water management, waste management,” she said. “Those elements are all related to climate change.”
Zamora sees using hydroponic labs as an opportunity to teach students a different way of thinking. With cities becoming more populated, the next leaders need to think about how to feed the surging population.
“If we continue bringing food from outside, and adding carbon and other gas emissions because of transportation or shipping, all that really impacts the environment,” she said. “So by having urban farming in the classroom, we’re thinking this is a new, good way to feed our population.
“We can free that space for forest restoration and other types of farming,” she added.
NY Sun Works has built labs in 70 schools throughout the five boroughs, teaching 264 educators and reaching 26,000 students citywide. Zamora said they’re building 20 more hydroponic labs in the coming year.
It’s all part of their model “Growing Sustainable Minds,” which aims to create students who are equipped to tackle climate change and environmental issues in the near future.