Irving — Children at the Irving Boys and Girls Club learned about hydroponics and tower gardens on Wednesday, Jan. 22.
“We’re trying to get our Boys and Girls Club children interested in planting and starting them on good, healthy eating habits,” Lieutenant Armando Acosta with the Irving Salvation Army said. “What better way to do that than by showing them how to plant these healthy plants? So the kids are picking out seeds, and we’ll be planting them. Hopefully in a few weeks, we’ll be able to show them some growth in the seeds they’ve planted.”
The tower gardens are sponsored by Juice Plus+, a health and wellness company based out of Tennessee. Sheri Dye, senior sales coordinator with Juice Plus+, said the company is partnering with Boys and Girls Club across North America.
“There’s a teacher in Brooklyn, and he is changing the whole face of Brooklyn by taking warehouses and having these tower farms everywhere they’re able to grow this food and generationally feed people,” Dye said. “The kids are at school. They’re learning about this as part of a STEM curriculum, then people come in and they are able to get food and take it home so they can start having nutritious food. And they are able to teach their families how to prepare these meals.
“It also teaches these kids how to nurture something. That’s why we had them stand in line and gave them all their seeds. We’re going to keep track of whose seed is whose, so they’re going to be able to measure it and see it grow and take care of it, which is amazing for them.”
The tower garden system is a vertical tower structure that allows up to 20 plants such as fruits, vegetables, spices, or flowers to grow in one unit. The tower takes up very little room and allows the plants to be cultivated in three square feet. The hydroponic system can be placed indoors or outdoors. The plants rely on water and provided nutrients for growth without soil.
Tower gardens like these have become highly popular in recent years in large cities due to their small footprint and the quality of food these gardens produce. Many organizations and businesses, from major sports teams to Disney have started using tower gardens to produce foods for their restaurants and kitchens.
“The San Francisco Giants ball field has a tower garden,” Dye said. “The Chicago O’Hare International Airport does the big tower gardens, and they supply food for all the restaurants. We all need food. A lot of restaurants, especially in the bigger cities [also use tower gardens]. You don’t have a lot of time and space to grow your own food, and the research that has been done on these tower gardens shows that the food is so nutritious, and you’re only using a tub that holds 20 gallons of water.”
Lt. Acosta hopes their program will be the first of many tower gardens in Irving.
“We’re hoping the hydroponics will grow here in the center where the kids can have more of them and hopefully we can spread it out to our other programs, like our older adults and our younger teens,” Acosta said. “The kids in the Boys and Girls Club will be able to show their parents they can plant some food they’ll actually be able to eat at their own homes. Hopefully, this is just a little, tiny seed planted in them that will grow and help change our community.”
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