How Hydroponic School Gardens Can Cultivate Food Justice, Year-Round

Originally posted by Robin Lloyd on July 7, 2019 for KUOW.org | Click here to read the original post

After a full day of school a few weeks ago, 12-year-old Rose Quigley donned gloves and quickly picked bunches of fresh lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, mint and oregano. But she didn’t have to leave her school in Brooklyn, N.Y., or even go outdoors to do it.

Quigley is one of dozens of students at Brownsville Collaborative Middle School who in the past year built a high-tech, high-yield farm inside a third-floor classroom. They decided what to grow, then planted seeds and harvested dozens of pounds of produce weekly.

The vegetables never stop coming because the crops are grown hydroponically — indoors, on floor-to-ceiling shelves that hold seedlings and plants sprouting from fiber plugs stuck in trays, each fed by nutrient-enriched water and lit by LED lamps. The students provide weekly produce for their cafeteria’s salad bar and other dishes.

Later that same day, for the first time, Quigley and several of her schoolmates also sold some of their harvest — at a discount from market rates — to community members. It’s part of a new weekly “food box” service set up in the school’s foyer. Each of 34 customers receive an allotment of fresh produce intended to feed two people for a week. Three students, paid as interns, used digital tablets to process orders, while peers handed out free samples of a pasta salad featuring produce from the farm.

Quigley’s passion for farming stems from Teens for Food Justice, a 6-year-old nonprofit organization that has worked with community partners to train students at Brownsville Collaborative and two other schools in low-income neighborhoods in New York City to become savvy urban farmers and consumers.

Originally posted by Robin Lloyd on July 7, 2019 for KUOW.org | Click here to read the original post

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