Cash Crop

Basil replaces lettuce in the NFT table.

Basil on the grow-poles.

Our greenhouse production is heating up – for one crop: basil.  While the school system is not quite ready for pesto yet, our community is, and summertime is a great time to shift from school lunch production to local restaurant.  Plus the basil seems to really love the rising temperature in the greenhouse. Selling summer basil will help keep the program sustainable the rest of the year.

This week, Satchel’s Pizza and Tempo Bistro will be featuring lovely Loften basil on the menu. If you stop by, please thank them for us!

Basil takes over from lettuce in the NFT table.

Basil takes over from lettuce in the NFT table.

Last hurrah – and how to help us keep growing

basil and cukes

basil and cukes

We shipped off our final harvest of cucumbers yesterday to a number of schools where most, if not all, students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. While we had high hopes of continuing the harvest during the summer, spider mites had another idea. We will be spending the first weeks of the summer cleaning out the greenhouse allowing the summer sun to have at it. By the end of a few weeks, the pests should be history.

The lettuce stopped a few weeks ago, when the combination of rising temperatures and a faulty emitter fried most of it. Still there were a few remaining heads last week that melted in your mouth…

We are raising money to restore a third greenhouse and purchase another NFT table (the basil is growing in one above) so we can double our lettuce production – from 150 to 300 heads per week!

If you would like to help, you can make a contribution here – or check out this page for other ways to help. Our produce is grown by students for students and benefits both disabled high school students (job training) as well as students who are eligible for free and reduced lunch. A great bang for your charitable buck!

Cucumbers are coming!

Measuring cucumbers to determine readiness for harvest.

Measuring cucumbers to determine readiness for harvest.

The students are growing some beautiful Persian cucumbers in the greenhouse in beta buckets. They are just starting to come in! They are kid-friendly cukes – small, thin-skinned, seedless, and sweet. We will use them in school lunches through May and then in our summer feeding program!

These are top-of-the-line veggies going out to children most in need of good nutrition. Grown by students for students!

Eugene finds the perfect cucumber for harvesting.

Eugene finds the perfect cucumber for harvesting.

Kelly and Eugene inspect cucumbers.

Kelly and Eugene inspect cucumbers.

Help us keep growing as the weather heats up

Our greenhouses have come a long way since August!

Before

Before.

After.

After.

before 3

Before.

10.29a

After.

Electrical system revamped – check. Evaporative cooing system installed – check. NFT tables producing – check (150 heads of lettuce a week!). Hours and hours of cleaning, sorting, hauling, installing, and caring by students and volunteers – check. Several large donations to kickstart the how thing – YES! (Thanks to the Patty Shively Foundation, Keep Alachua County Beautiful, and Dr. Kim Kazimour who got the whole thing moving forward.)

Now we need one last thing to outfit this system for the long haul: louvers to help control the temperature and protect the evaporative cooling system.

These are pricey, but they’re necessary additions in order for the greenhouse to function optimally during changes in weather. If you can help, please visit our site on Alachua County’s “Find It Fund It” page to make a donation. We are almost there (thanks to you).

These. Ten of them.