By Jack Cumming

It was a morning like every other, and my wife and I were watching CBS Mornings with our breakfast. The story was a grabber. Imagine school kids not only eating school lunches but also growing healthy foods for the menu. The school is in Ashwaubenon, WI. Where else but in a farm culture would one find an initiative for farm fresh produce? Where else?

Farm Fresh Produce

Well, unexpectedly, this is not a story that found its start on a farm. It all began in New York City. Where else? Not likely. The kids in Ashwaubenon are growing their produce using hydroponics. Now that’s as forward-thinking as the future. Yet, the basics of farming are as old as human culture. And the food? Well, that’s the best part.

As we watched the kids being served fresh food grown by faculty and students in the same building as the cafeteria, all I could think of was how perfect this is for senior living. Imagine, garden-grown food produced right on the premises, and with residents tending the hydroponic garden. Even the most cognitively challenged can find purpose in growing food. Wow, that suddenly seemed like a big idea.

Where to Start

The Ashwaubenon project found its beginning with a hydroponic equipment provider called “Fork Farms.” Its website features an item, “Be a Farmer.” What fun. The website promises, “Spend less time growing and more time teaching.” I couldn’t help but envision, “Spend less time growing and more time caring.” It might even be a better fit for senior living than for schools. Eureka.

As it appears, Fork Farms offers all the equipment you might need, beginning with a growing pod that costs about $5,000 and which grows “25+ lbs of fresh food every 28 days” and only requires “2 hours of regular maintenance per month.” A single donor willing to step up with $50,000 can fund most of what’s needed for a “farm” of 10 units.

That sounds like something worth pursuing to lend spark to your community’s life enrichment. It’s good for the food program, good for the planet, and fun for residents. Who wouldn’t want to sponsor something as rewarding and pertinent as that?

Happy food makes happy residents. It doesn’t get any better than that.