First hydroponic lettuce harvested for school lunch program at Sparta High School

Students at Sparta High School were served lettuce Wednesday that was grown down the hall in the school’s greenhouse.

The first crop of hydroponic lettuce was harvested at 9:30 a.m. – just in time to be prepared for the student’s first lunch at 11:05 a.m.

“This is so exciting to have kids producing hydroponic lettuce that we can use in the cafeteria that we can use for our high school students,” said Cindy Thesing, nutrition services supervisor. “This is a fantastic opportunity for all of the kids involved in this new growing venture.”

The equipment was purchased through a Transform Wisconsin Food Systems Impact grant the school district received with Tomah and Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton school districts. Efforts have focused on increasing farm to school efforts and bringing local produce to the students meal trays. The hydroponic equipment will allow continued local produce during the academic school years when school gardens are not in production.

“Our students have really bought into this idea of growing food for our cafeteria. This is one of the things that the students are constantly pacing back to check out,” said Sparta High School Agriculture Teacher Eric Follendorf. “Every week they make comments about how much it has grown since the previous day.”

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