Winter or not, leafy greens are sprouting up

Helping to get the Hydroponic Garden Tower going and growing are from left, Darby Smith, ADRC Nutrition & Transportation manager; Emily Brunstad, Marshfield Clinic community benefits coordinator; Alex Tyink,  Fork Farms president and co-founder; and Steve Tyink, Fork Farms Partnership Development.

Are you wondering about that tall, glowing contraption in the corner of the pool room at the Rice Lake Senior Center?

We are happy to inform you that it’s our very own Hydroponic Garden Tower!

The Barron County Senior Nutrition program was gifted this Fork Farms tower from Marshfield Clinic Health System to start growing our own leafy green vegetables.

The first seedlings have been planted and green leaf lettuce will hopefully be ready for harvest by the first or second week in January.

The plan is to use these fresh greens in the salad bars at the Rice Lake and Cumberland dining sites.  

The hydroponic gardening method grows fresh produce in a water-based, nutrient-rich system. No soil is used. Instead, the root system is supported by planting the seeds in rock wool (made from volcanic ash and completely biodegradable).

A pump filters and conserves the water so the plant nutrients are controlled, and the water is continuously pumped through the system.

The energy efficient LED lights are  on 18 hours a day to promote growth. The pH of the water and amount of nutrients are monitored each week to ensure optimal growth.

With this system, it will be just minutes from harvest to your plate, meaning you will be consuming the freshest, most nutrient-rich leafy greens!

Once we get used to the system, we hope to grow other produce such as herbs and cherry tomatoes.  

For food safety reasons, we ask that the system not be touched or changed in any way. Barron County Nutrition Program Staff will be monitoring the system, and if you have any questions regarding it, please don’t hesitate to ask. If you stop in the Rice Lake Senior Center, be su

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