Stoney Ward teaches hydroponic gardening through Spirit of the Canyon
Team spirit and healthy eating are part of his curriculum.
“Changing lives one plant at a time,” is the heart and purpose of Spirit of the Canyon owner Stoney Ward, who has had a vision for hydroponic gardening since moving to Grand Canyon Junction (also known as de Valle) four years ago.
“I want to show people, especially school kids, how to be healthier and how growing healthy foods like microgreens is tasty, inexpensive, and fast,” Ward said.
Ward’s vision developed into teaching 7th, 8th, and 9th graders at Grand Canyon School, where students learn about several forms of hydroponics as well as different systems such as microgreens and hydroponics. self-evacuation systems with soil.
“My ultimate goal is to teach students how they can grow their own food no matter where they live and use less water than traditional agriculture,” Ward said. “I believe teaching these kids about hydroponics and urban agriculture will help them prepare for their future by helping them realize that they can grow their own food, in their own space, especially during critical times such as climate change, pandemics, etc.”
“I think it’s really interesting and I think it’s really important for the future and for helping the community in many ways,” said Ronan Alvarez, 13, “I’m eating better now and enjoying fresh vegetables I want to grow micro greens at home.
On the menu of Ward’s courses are microgreens of sunflower, peas and broccoli, as well as several varieties of lettuce. Microgreen seeds are harvested at a very young stage and the sprouts mimic the flavor of the adult vegetable. “They are very nutritious,” he said.
Employed as general manager of Buck Wild Hummer Tours in Tusayan, Ward moved to Grand Canyon Junction from Las Vegas where he owned an outdoor recreation business. “I’ve worked with thousands of kids, teaching them lessons in survival, team building, zip lining, high ropes courses and white water rafting at Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort.”
For good measure, Ward says he likes to incorporate teamwork into his classes. “Whatever their future job is, teamwork helps them learn how to work as a team to achieve their goals.”
Starting each class with breathing exercises is also part of Ward’s instructions. “I have met young people who seem quite apathetic and uninspired. This could partly be due to the last two years of living during a pandemic and the uncertainty of their lives. In addition, children spend a lot of time on their devices, [they have] unhealthy eating habits and not enough time to perform practical tasks and exercise. Oxygen is good.
“Mr. Ward has incredible energy and it’s a great starting point, especially for middle schoolers,” said Adrian Alvarez, a science and environmental science teacher at Grand Canyon School. are really excited to see how fast the growth process is for microgreens. The other thing that really excites them about hydroponics is the low water usage. Many of us live in rural areas, so we know the importance of protecting our water, as many of us carry water to our homes.
The students also showed a lot of interest in the nutritional value of microgreens and how they can incorporate it into their diets, Alvarez said. “They are really excited to share this experience with their families and the community at large.”
As students grow plants, they will donate them to local food banks. “They will also be hosting a Farmer’s Market to bring healthy, organic produce to the community,” Ward said.
Spirit of the Canyon has secured support from the Rotary Club of the Grand Canyon through a generous donation. “Our children are our future and more education on hydroponics is good for our community and I’m really happy with Stoney’s program with the kids. Keeping pure fresh organic vegetables and fruits and water is important,” said Clayann Cook, president of the Grand Canyon Rotary Club.
Located at Grand Canyon Junction, Ward created and built the Spirit of the Canyon hydroponic ranch last May. “I anticipate that the students involved in this project will come to see the ranch and experience hydroponic farming firsthand.”
Ward plans to work with other area farmers and expand his educational program. “Once the foundation is established here at the Grand Canyon School, I plan to use it as a model for other schools in northern Arizona,” he said.
For more information on Spirit of the Canyon, visit
spiritofthecanyon.com or call
ADVICE FOR ENTERPRISE CREATORS
You need to make sure you have passion for what you are doing. Research your competitors and create a business plan knowing that you will likely make changes along the way. A marketing plan is also important.
QUALITIES OF CHARACTER ADMIRED IN OTHERS
First of all, I like to learn who they are and what they like. I then like to understand what type of personality it is: promoter, controller, analytical, supporter.
Enjoying the wonders of nature is great.
FAVORITE HOLIDAY PLACE
Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon.
Regulates my body temperature in extreme conditions thanks to the Wim Hof [a Dutch extreme athlete] Method. It changed my life. NBF
By V. Ronnie Tierney, FBN