US (WI): Beloit schools launches hydroponic gardens

Aramark Director of Food Service Jerod Haxton and Taylor Armstrong, a district secretary in facilities, carefully tended the seedlings which produced a bountiful first harvest of lettuce. “We harvested once, which gave us 15 pounds of lettuce. It was distributed to families via the Grab and Go meals,” explained School District of Beloit Food and Nutrition Director Dawn. 

The Beloit School District in conjunction with its Food Service Department will be offering hydroponically grown produce at its schools. 

Hydroponic garden systems do not use soil and rely on water and nutrients to grow food. The ones purchased by the district can grow lettuces and herbs in about two-month intervals.

The school board approved the purchase of eight “gardens” in early summer. They were paid for via an excess fund balance in Fund 50, used for the district’s food and community service activities. 
If the gardening goes well, Executive Director of Business, Human Resources and Operations JoAnn Armstrong said the board could approve purchase of an additional seven gardens if there is an excess fund balance again. One of the new garden systems already has been established at the operations center in September to grow lettuce as a test model, Smith said.

Meanwhile six of the units have been delivered to schools, and will be erected once students are back in class. The gardens would spend two months in a classroom until there is a harvest. Then food service would bring other salad toppings to class for a healthy feast.

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