StartUpRoots empowers students to develop their potential and challenges them to build a more equitable and sustainable future by providing a platform for growing food, ideas, and responsibility for the earth’s limited resources. StartUpRoots became a certified Geffen provider in 2022 and developed curricula aligned with the goals and objectives of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Environmental Protection, and Ministry of Health. Participating schools can receive government funding to promote health and sustainability, and StartUpRoots can provide an authentic platform and curriculum to support these initiatives and meet Ministry standards.
In 2015, StartUpRoots was established to address the nutritional needs of underprivileged school children in Jerusalem's poorest neighborhood. Recognizing the limitations of providing handouts, the organization converted a dilapidated schoolyard into a 100 sq meter hydroponic farm, enabling students to learn about nutrition and sustainable living while growing 1500 vegetables each month. (new par) As interest grew, StartUpRoots designed a vertical system that could fit anywhere, allowing students to become active learners who research plant needs, develop entrepreneurship skills, and market new products like the healthy "hydro-shake." (new par) Later, a commercial farm was developed in a 22 sq meter space in the Old City, where Yeshiva students produced fresh, kosher, pesticide-free vegetables for local sale. By promoting hydroponics, StartUpRoots helps reduce water usage, waste, and land usage, while also promoting fresh, locally-grown produce. Through multidisciplinary curriculum, StartUpRoots empowers students to become responsible team players who connect Jewish tradition with social justice, health, and environmentalism. (new par) Each year, StartUpRoots has continued to develop curriculum and incorporate new technologies. With our current system, we can grow over 400 plants per square meter, and our curriculum now includes science, nutrition, sustainable entrepreneurship, and photojournalism. In addition, we are happy to assist schools in implementing the Ministry of Education's Green School and Health Promoting School programs. Our hallmark is providing authentic, student-centered, experiential learning with a focus on health and sustainability and connection to Jewish tradition.
Word spread and soon other principals and teachers wanted to “green” their schools. As few schools have the space for a 100 sq meter greenhouse, we needed to develop a farm that could literally fit anywhere. In the hallway of a school that serves just over 100 students, StartUpRoots designed a vertical system that could grow 120 plants per meter, per month. Students became active learners, researching plant needs, applying the scientific method to growing sprouts, microgreens, leafy greens and herbs. They documented plant growth and reflected on their own growth. While they enjoyed the fruits of their labors, they also learned about entrepreneurship. Applying lessons from the entrepreneurship curriculum, students developed new products, such as the hydro-shake, a healthy drink they learned to advertise and promote to other students in the school.
Next, we developed a commercial farm, enabling Yeshiva students to produce hundreds of vegetables for sale to local residents. In a 22 sq meter space, in a 2000-year-old room in the Old City, devoting just a few hours a week, students learned how to produce and market a variety of fresh, kosher, chemical pesticide-free vegetables. The vegetables reached our customers within minutes of being harvested.
Hydroponics uses 90% less water than traditional farming, eliminates the need for chemical pesticides, reduces waste, and saves precious land. Food grown locally, in a controlled environment reduces the carbon footprint and makes fresh vegetables available all year long.
StartUpRoots provides students with the tools to develop skills, knowledge, and a love of learning that will engage them to be responsible team players in a world that demands cooperation, consideration, and collaboration. Within our multidisciplinary curriculum, we invite students to find what they enjoy, develop what they are good at, appreciate the input of others, and focus on what our world needs. Students connect Jewish tradition with social justice, health, environmentalism and more. There is no greater pleasure than watching students grow by growing!