IDEA Public Schools is kicking off National Nutrition Month with a hydroponic farming pilot program that allows students to harvest food, while using little water and electricity.
It’s called the Leafy Green Machine. It can grow 500 heads of lettuce, 40 to 50 pounds of hearty greens, and 35 to 45 herbs in one week. It’s exactly what kids need to get excited about when it comes to farming and eating healthy.
Jordon Roney, Campus farmer says, “This is our first element introduction to our farm program. This is a hydroponic freight farm. We will be growing lettuce, different leafy greens in here which we will serve in the cafeteria.”
The Leafy Green Machine is a modified shipping container with vertical crop columns that allow students to get hands on experience with futuristic farming.
Roney says, “IDEA is doing this to bring together the relationship between the students and the food. To see where it’s coming from, the importance of knowing where the food is coming from, and the importance of having a healthy balanced diet.”
It uses close to 10 gallons of water per day, which is 90 percent less water than traditional farming methods. It also has environmental sensors that monitor water, climate, and lighting conditions within the farm.
Students say farming is important because it helps the environment and it’s all healthy because there is no use of pesticides. The machine provides an engaging space for IDEA students to learn about the future of growing food in the era of technology. It combines several school subjects such as biology, chemistry, mathematics, and master gardening.
IDEA San Benito is just one of ten K-12 schools in the U.S. with the Leafy Green Machine on campus.