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MNW students experience hydroponic gardening

Lettuce grown at school used in student-run restaurant

MANSON — The Manson Northwest Webster Family and Consumer Science department purchased a hydroponic tower garden this fall with grant funds from Farm Credit Services of America’s Working Here Fund. Students in grades 7-12 will grow, harvest, prepare and cook the fruits and vegetables to be used in the culinary arts classes.

Foods Fundamentals students will also use the tower garden by expanding the seed to table fruit and vegetable unit. Most recently, students in the Advanced Foods class have been harvesting and serving romaine lettuce in their student-run restaurant, The Autumn Grill.

Hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants without soil. In hydroponic gardens, nutrients are dissolved in the water that surrounds the roots, so plants have access to the nutrition they need.

“Tower gardens are a healthier, smarter, easier way to grow food than traditional gardens,” said Julie Tague, family and consumer sciences instructor/FCCLA advisor. “They grow produce 30% faster, use 90% less space, have 30% higher yields and use 98% less water,” she said. “It is a perfect fit for the classroom. This innovative way of growing fruits and vegetables teaches life-long skills of growing and preparing healthy food in a fun and practical way.”

The next luncheon menu includes using the lettuce in salads and will be served on Tuesday, Nov. 5. To make a lunch reservation, call the Jr/Sr High School at 712-469-2245.