Purchased with support from New York State’s Creating Healthy Schools & Communities (CHSC) program, administered in Franklin County by The Heart Network, the school uses the grow carts to support the food service team with fresh lettuce for the cafeteria.
“These grow carts use a terraponic growing method — essentially, a tray in a steel pan filled with water,” said Andrew Cassata, healthy schools coordinator for The Heart Network. “This way, the plants are watered from the roots up. It is quite the growing method, as harvest times are faster and less fungal diseases have been found to grow on the plants.”
SRCSD has been using the 2445 Grow Cart System for several years. Over that time, classrooms have had success growing a number of different types of vegetables and herbs, including lettuce, microgreens, scallions, strawberry plants, mint, basil and cilantro. Currently, two classrooms are in the process of growing vegetables in the grow carts that will later be transplanted in the outdoor garden.
“The students thoroughly enjoy learning how to care for the plants and watching their growth,” said Nicole Foster, the school district’s food service manager. “Once the plants are harvested, the students share their hard work and dedication with the cafeteria. We in turn add their harvest to the salad that is served at lunch to students. This becomes a win-win for both our students and our cafeteria.”
Salmon River is using CHSC support to look for other ways to expand growing operations to grow more lettuce and other produce to feed students and faculty.
“We are grateful to be receiving this CHSC grant, as it will allow our newly added agriculture program the benefit of educating more students about horticulture,” Foster said.
The Heart Network’s CHSC program works to increase access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity in both school and community settings. In 2021, the program added an early childhood component to its focus areas going forward. Through a partnership with the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, CHSC engages with providers in Franklin County to adopt policies and practices that promote nutrition and physical activity for young children.
Other CHSC projects include breakfast carts and greenhouses at Malone schools, wellness training and programs for teachers at multiple Franklin County schools, community gardens and the Mobile Farmers Market, a joint program of The Heart Network and the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity. To learn more about CHSC, contact Program Coordinator Andrea Goff at (518) 891-5855 or firstname.lastname@example.org.