US (MA): Technical school's culinary arts program implements terraponic grow system

Superintendent Jill Rossetti and Culinary Arts Department Lead Teacher Richard Spada are pleased to announce that Blue Hills Regional Technical School’s Culinary Arts Program has successfully implemented a terraponic indoor grow system to assist students with harvesting crops. The Blue Hills Culinary Arts Program’s new terraponic indoor grow system is the first system of this type at Blue Hills having just arrived two months ago. Since it arrived, students have had the opportunity to plant, water and harvest crops to be used for cooking. 

Currently, the program is growing spinach, dill, bibb lettuce, basil and cilantro with the  terrapins indoor grow system to be used in dishes. To date, the program has already harvested two large crops of basil which was used to make a homemade pesto sauce for the “Chateau de Bleu” restaurant’s Chicken Pesto Panini dish, spinach which has been used for Spinach Artichoke Dip and bibb lettuce which has been used in catering orders.

The system uses a soil blend, consisting of potting soil with organic soil amendments, in special trays which sit in a growing rack. Every few days, students add two gallons of water to each rack and the plants soak up the water from below. Each rack has UV lights that are positioned a few inches from the top of the plant and as the plant grows, the lights are adjusted to allow for more room. After the first few growths are finished, the soil is returned to a compost bin and more soil amendments will be added so that the soil can be recycled for future harvesting use.

“Implementing the terraponic indoor grow system into our Culinary Arts program is the latest step we have taken to introduce farming education into our curriculum,” Spada said. “In the past, we have taken field trips to a local herb farm, Muddy River Herbals, to assist in the planting and harvesting process, but with our own growing system we can now streamline the harvesting process and enhance our farm-to-table efforts.”

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