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Paoli High School

501 Elm St.
Paoli, IN 47454
(812) 723-3905

Home Grown Lunch

Class Growing Lettuce, Cucumbers and Strawberries Next Up
Kylie Flannery
The Ag Departments hydroponic shelves that they use to grow lettuce.

Visitors to the salad bar may not know they are building their salads with greens grown right down the hall from the cafeteria.

Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor Samantha Goen secured a contract with Opaa!, the food service company, which allows the PHS agriculture department to sell fruits and vegetables they produce to the company for use in the PHS Cafe. Goen’s plant and soil science classes grew the first eight pounds of lettuce for the Opaa! contract, and is now being served at lunch to junior high and high school students.

“This is the first year we have been able to sell to the cafeteria and make a profit,” said Goen.
Although the plant and soil science classes have grown lettuce for the PHS cafeteria before, there has never been an official contract with Opaa!.

“The exciting thing about the eight pounds of lettuce we produced, was the fact that we were able to give those eight pounds back to the cafeteria and our school,” said Goen.

The lettuce is sold for $1.75 per pound. The contract states that Opaa! Can only purchase $50 worth of lettuce per week. The three plant and soil science classes will be able to use the profit from selling to Opaa! to continue and grow more produce.

Keegan Cox and classmates check on the lettuce seedlings. (Kylie Flannery)

“Right now we’re just growing lettuce. Once we get our cucumbers up and going, we will start to do cucumbers. We also have strawberries in our germination station right now. Once those start to germinate, we will then hopefully have strawberries for the school cafeteria,” said Goen.

The lettuce was grown in the Ark, a hydroponic or continuous flow system built in 2017. The plant and soil science students planted hundreds of lettuce seeds in rockwool and then poured water on the rockwool to make it damp enough for the seeds to germinate or sprout. The lettuce seeds are also under a growing light to help germination. After two to three days, the lettuce seedlings are moved to a nutrition solution and then to the hydroponic system. Students take care of the lettuce, measure the magnesium, sulfate, and calcium, and check their PH levels to ensure it is healthy and growing correctly. Then, students weigh, package, and deliver the lettuce to the school or places outside of the school.

Sophomore Billy Bob Apple has learned a lot from his experience in this class.

“I have learned many different skills such as leadership and management,” said Apple.

Because Apple learned these skills, he can help his classmates with their jobs and manage the process of growing lettuce.

“It’s a lot of work, but I am more than prepared to do it,” said Apple.

Apple helps with the overall process of growing and producing lettuce and helps with packing and delivering the lettuce.

“I hope we will have many systems to provide a ton of food for people in the future. I hope that after I graduate in 2026 this system grows larger and can provide for all of the surrounding areas,” said Apple.

The goal for the students is to get a better and larger system with more variety of fruits and vegetables so our agriculture department can provide things other than lettuce to the school and surrounding areas.

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Lillie Johnson
Lillie Johnson, Paolite Staff Writer
Hi, I’m Lillie. I enjoy reading and hanging out with friends.
Kylie Flannery
Kylie Flannery, Hillcrest Assistant Editor
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