Minisink Valley is first Orange County school district to begin using a Babylon Micro-Green Farm system; all cafeterias will use fresh lettuce varieties/herbs in student meals

microfarm system

Minisink Valley is the first Orange County school district to begin using a Babylon Micro-Green Farm system, which will produce more than 20 pounds of fresh lettuce varieties and herbs every month to be used in all school cafeterias.

microfarm“We value the importance of local farms and using their produce for our nutritional program,” said Cheryl Bellew, director of food services. “Our school lunches boast a variety of vegetable options, many of which comes from our community. We decided to take it a step further by purchasing a Babylon Micro-Green Farm so we can become more self-sustained.”

microfarmAn added important benefit is the teachable moments that will be available to students. Mrs. Bellew eventually plans to partner with teachers so students can learn more about the world of hydroponics and hydroponic farming.

Hydroponics is the growing of plants without soil, whereby nutrients are delivered to plants via water. Hydroponically grown greens use 90% less water than traditional methods, all without the use of harmful pesticides.

Each micro-farm features sophisticated software and sensors that work together to ensure crops get just the right amount of light, water and nutrients. There’s also a mobile app that helps users keep tabs on crops and get notified when they’re ready for harvest. Technology automates the complex aspects of indoor farming by simplifying crop production and making it accessible to individuals, groups and organizations to use.

microfarm system

The Babylon name is inspired by the proto-hydroponics of the hanging gardens of Babylon, one of the original seven wonders of the ancient world. Its founders first designed a low-cost micro-farm to provide nutritious produce for food-insecure refugees in the Middle East.

students looking at microfarm

Romaine is the first lettuce variety growing in the micro-farm, which Middle School students can observe  as they work their way through the cafeteria line.

“We believe our students will love eating this fresh lettuce, with more varieties planned,” added Mrs. Bellew. “Plus, we love the important self-sustainability component as well.”