Students are growing organic, nutritious food that is headed for their own lunch tables! This collaborative effort between teachers and students at Dracut High and Richardson Middle School along with our Food Services Department is underway and has us growing vegetables, greens, and herbs that will be incorporated into our salad bars and prepared meals served to our students.
Andy Maslin an organic farmer from Massena New York, and founder of 24:45 Organics (pictured below) worked with the first group of students from Dracut High on November 29th to set up and plant the first crop. This indoor growing system patented by the Maslin family relies on primitive soil, meaning that all of the minerals and living organisms such as microbes, bacteria, fungi, and worms are added to the soils without resorting to chemicals and pollutants. Nothing is wasted, with on-site composting so that a sustainable and truly organic food supply can be provided. The Dracut Public Schools are proudly the first district in Massachusetts to utilize this patented organic growing system.
Housed in our greenhouse at Richardson Middle School, the first planting included lettuce, microgreens, basil, spinach, cilantro, and parsley. With this indoor, climate controlled system, growing cycles are accelerated. As pictured below, by December 7th, 8 days after planting, progress was well underway.
Led by Karen Taylor, the Dracut High School Science Department Chair, with the support of other teachers, students, and our Food Service Director, Patricia Puntumapanitch, the first harvest is already underway 22 days after planting. Students will soon have fresh, home-grown (literally) greens in their salads and herbs in their sauces. As production increases, we anticipate expansion to include tomatoes and cucumbers.
This is truly an authentic learning experience for our students and an honorable and tangible way to recognize and celebrate the farming heritage of Dracut.