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US (TX): Idea Public Schools inaugurates new hydroponic farm

Green Mountain Energy and IDEA Public Schools hosted a ribbon-cutting last week for a new hydroponic farm and upcoming outdoor classroom at IDEA Achieve Academy and College Preparatory in Haltom City, Texas. The new shipping container facility, named ‘Freight Farm,’ was made possible thanks to a grant of more than $178,000 from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club.

For students at IDEA Achieve, the new hydroponic farm offers unique opportunities to explore concepts in engineering, chemistry, physics, and biology through its use of specialized lighting, pH-controlled fertilizer injectors, computerized controls, and a controlled climate to support plant growth and development. The new hydroponic farm program will also be used in the school curriculum to teach these concepts, as well as all the practical skills associated with them. Outside of the curriculum, students will experience additional learning opportunities on campus farm operations, taste tests, composting, and more.

“This is our first and only hydroponic farm in the Tarrant County region, and thanks to Sun Club, over 1,000 students at IDEA Achieve will have access to hyperlocal produce that is sustainably produced year-round using only 5 gallons of water per day,” said Deborah Ray, the Child Nutrition Program Director of Farms for IDEA Public Schools. “This supports not only their physical nutrition but increases the diversity of academic and technical learning experiences for our students. The hydroponic farm will have lasting effects in the community, and we couldn’t be more excited to officially launch this program with the help of our partners, Sun Club.”

This project marks the second time IDEA has received a Sun Club grant. In 2018, the organization received $100,000 for a solar array to power the district headquarters building. Freight Farm will be used to expand IDEA Achieve’s existing farm program and will be considered the first hydroponic farm for the IDEA Tarrant County region. Eliminating seasonal and logistical barriers to sourcing fresh food, Freight Farm will produce nearly 500 heads of lettuce weekly for students to eat in the lunchroom.

“There’s something so fulfilling about contributing to the education of young students and teaching them how vital it is to take care of our planet,” said Mark Parsons, Vice President and General Manager of Green Mountain Energy. “With the addition of this hydroponic farm, we trust that IDEA Public Schools will continue to encourage students to incorporate sustainability into their lives at school and at home.”

Sun Club, since its founding in 2002, has empowered local communities and donated over $13 million for sustainability projects with 156 nonprofit organizations, including 34 schools across Texas and the Northeast. The charitable program supports projects promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, resource conservation, and environmental stewardship. Sun Club is funded by Green Mountain Energy, its customers, and its employees.

For more information:
Green Mountain Energy

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