Altus ag department using hydroponic grow towers to teach students, grow lettuce for cafeteria

Altus ag department using hydroponic grow towers to teach students, grow lettuce for cafeteria

ALTUS, Okla. (TNN) - The Altus High School ag program has implemented hydroponic grow towers into the classroom.

The grow towers allow students to grow plants right in the classroom without needing soil. Ag teachers at Altus High School feel this new equipment takes their ag program to the next level.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for the students. They actually see the production process from a seedling to germination to actual harvest. This is a product the kids can harvest and take home with them,” said Agriculture Education Instructor Bruce Farquhar.

“It’s one thing in today’s modern classroom for them to stare at a computer screen, an iPad, a MacBook all day long. But it’s another thing for them to actually watch what they do and the choices they make affect plant growth,” said Agriculture Education Instructor J.C. Stafford.

Students will be able to grow many different things in the towers, though for now, they’ve settled on growing lettuce. They expect to be able to grow over 300 pounds of lettuce in a year, which they’re making sure goes to a good place.

“We’ve been able to use some of the cuttings from our grow towers in our cafeterias to feed students. We’ve used it in our mobile meals program all summer long, the 10-week program we did. It was well-received, a great vegetable alternative added into our menus,” said Altus Public Schools Child Nutrition Program Director Sabina Garrett.

The towers were paid for with a $30,000 Healthy Incentive Grant from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, which the district qualified for because they have successfully adopted health-promoting policies.

In addition to the grow towers, the district also used the grant money to purchase sensory learning equipment for kids in Kindergarten and Pre-K, as well as water bottle hydration stations for each school in the district.

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