Hydroponic unit at Antwerp Local School

Seniors Sabrina Thomas-Vankirk and Christian Huss help harvest the grown leafy vegetables.

The Antwerp Local School cafeteria now has a hydroponic unit used to grow leafy vegetables. Tom Blake, owner of EnTrust, the company who funded Antwerp Local’s new solar array, donated the hydroponic prototype to the school. The company is in the process of building a permanent metal structure that will replace the current prototype. In the meantime, the cafeteria staff is getting used to using the hydroponic unit to grow its leafy vegetables for the salad bar.

To grow the leafy vegetables, cafeteria staff places seeds in a rock wool cube, which is placed near the light source. When the first true leaf appears from the seedling, it is transplanted to the production unit. The staff then creates a nutrient solution that is poured into and recycled through the unit until harvest time.

With this system, the cafeteria only needs to purchase the nutrients, water, and seed for the leafy vegetables, so the hydroponic unit results in significant savings for the cafeteria. In addition, the hydroponic unit allows for safe, homegrown produce and educational opportunities for Antwerp Local students.

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