Health Check: Leafy Green Machine

Health Check: Leafy Green Machine. (WJAR)

CUMBERLAND, R.I. (WJAR) - The Cumberland School District has the first Leafy Green Machine in Rhode Island.

It's a sort of farm in a box.

"We are really focusing on sustainability," said Sodexo food service director Shauna Spillane.

Every single week, Spillane and her staff plant seeds inside a 40-foot, climate-controlled container.

"It takes three weeks for them to be germinated and grow to the point we put them into the vertical columns,” said Spillane.

Planting vertically is a space saver and a bumper crop producer. Every seven weeks -- from start to finish.

"It'll produce a football field of leafy greens for us," said Spillane.

One-thousand plants at a time are grown vertically; special lights are programmed remotely. These plants are efficiently grown, using minimal water and electricity.

The first bumper crop is just days away. And while Sodexo food service will manage the growing and picking, it plans on having students participate.

"We're actually building the curriculum right now with the school department and science chair to try to mirror a curriculum so that we have student involvement and hopefully students will be using this as a growth cycle education," said Spillane.

In a year, this Leafy Green Machine can produce two acres' worth of greens. And while this is the first at a school district in Rhode Island, they're offering any other school districts that want to check it out, to do so.

The modified shipping containers are re-purposed into green machines by Freight Farms in Boston.

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