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CAN: OrganicLife piloting aeroponic gardens at London Middle School

As students at London Middle School return for the fall session, they may notice the cafeteria has become a little greener from when they departed in June. This is thanks to the installation of three aeroponic growing towers along the eastern wall of the cafeteria, serving as part of a pilot project between Community Consolidated School District 21 and food service management provider OrganicLife.

"We're trying to bring fresher food to the kids, increase exposure to different items, and have them be able to watch where their food comes from and how it's grown," said Allison Brown, senior district manager for OrganicLife. "A lot of the time, they aren't able to see that part [of the process], so it's nice to give them that." The idea to install these gardens has been kicked around for a few years as an extension of the Harvest of the Month Club, in which the district participates. The district finally secured two towers before the end of the 2023-2024 school year, and added a third over the past month.

Each tower is made from UV-stabilized, BPA-free, food-grade plastic and employs aeroponics and holds up to 32 plants. Brown and her team have already grown basil, kale and a gourmet lettuce variety in the gardens, all of which were added to meals provided as part of the Seamless Summer program (the basil was added to a pasta salad, while the lettuce variety produced about 13 salads). They are using this time as a "trial and error" to see what crops can be grown, how long each takes, and what the yield can inevitably be.

"It's been fun to try and see what different crops we've been able to grow," she said. "There have been a few occasions where we've taken a ruler and measured the growth, like 'OK, this week it's at two inches, maybe next week it'll be at three inches!'"

Read the entire article at Daily Herald

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