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Lettuce grown hydroponically on campus

UWO student Elijah Tesch tends to the lettuce.

Photos courtesy of UWO Flickr

UWO student Elijah Tesch tends to the lettuce.

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UW Oshkosh has partnered with Jericho Road Ministries to hydroponically grow lettuce and give the healthy produce choice to the Lutheran Food Pantry in Oshkosh.

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution instead of using soil.

Chemistry professor Kevin Crawford said he is in charge of supervising the students that take care of the lettuce.

“I make sure that they’re growing the lettuce, doing what they need to do and I get them enrolled in the course and make sure that goes well,” Crawford said. “I also interface any time I’m needed with Jericho Road and with campus people to make sure everything’s working.”

Crawford said Jericho Road organized this initiative.

“I was approached by Abigail from Jericho Road, and she was actually looking for a way to get more student volunteers to help her with the grow machines, and I suggested it might be better to have it here so it’s easier for students to get to,” Crawford said.

Crawford said students can earn credit for growing the lettuce.

“It’s a University-wide project, and we expect that any time there’s lettuce growing in the unit, we’re going to have a student getting course credit for either an internship or independent study,” Crawford said. “Elijah, the student that’s running it right now, he’ll be in charge of it for the semester.”

Jericho Road Industries partnered with UWO to provide a method of growing plants without the use of soil in a unit under the stairs at Polk Library.

Photos courtesy of UWO Flickr
Jericho Road Industries partnered with UWO to provide a method of growing plants without the use of soil in a unit under the stairs at Polk Library.

Jericho Road Ministries Lutheran Food Pantry special projects manager Abigail Miedaner said she started working with the machines last year.

“I started working with the machines about a year ago in January of 2018,” Miedaner said. “Jim, one of the volunteers, he was the one who initially took care of the machines when we first got them, which was October of 2017.”

Miedaner said this initiative is a way to incorporate healthier foods into their clients’ selections.

“There has been kind of a movement towards healthier eating, and a lot of our clients at the food pantry have health issues so eating healthily is very beneficial,” Miedaner said. “With that movement, sometimes there has been a disconnect in that food pantries can’t provide healthy food even though we know that we want to do that, so this ties in really well with the initiative to provide healthy food for people coming to food pantries.”

Miedaner said helping clients with healthy eating can benefit other aspects of their lives.

“It is supplemental; it’s not meant to be their sole source of food. But in providing that supplemental food, if we can get it to last longer and to be higher quality, that’s going to help their health which, in turn, can help a lot of other things too,” Miedaner said.

Lettuce is grown hydroponically on the UW Oshkosh campus.

Photos courtesy of UWO Flickr
Lettuce is grown hydroponically on the UW Oshkosh campus.

Miedaner said this is the food pantry’s way of sharing their faith in the community.

“We’re passionate about sharing Jesus’ love for people,” Miedaner said. “So I think it’s just fantastic that we have a tangible way that we can show Jesus’ love by providing something fresh.”

Miedaner said it’s good to see people working together to support the community.

“I’ve been really encouraged by seeing various organizations and groups joined together to provide for the community, and I think this partnership really demonstrates that,” Miedaner said.

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Lettuce grown hydroponically on campus