LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville Dining has started something new, expanding its menu and sustainability with a new tool bringing fresh food to campus.
Since October, the university started growing its own food in a greenhouse kept in one of its dining halls, and began harvesting last week.
Louie's Greenhouse is a microfarm where over 40 different types of microgreens, herbs, lettuces and more can be grown inside the Ville Grill. When harvested, the greens are incorporated into meals created for students.
"We have starving people in our own town and they're not able to get to this food, so I wanted to come back to school and figure out how to be part of that solution," said Sarah Bosse, Sustainability Dining intern.
Bosse takes care of the microfarm and said getting access to a resource like this on campus has been monumental.
"I really believe in the new wave of what we're going to do in agriculture, especially in urban agriculture," she said. "So by having this farm, we really showcase what's capable."
Louie's Greenhouse is a Hydroponic Vertical Farm that runs on water and added nutrients, no soil needed. The system uses 94% less water than traditional farming and saves on space. It also creates 95% less food waste, 99.9% less transportation, 99.3% less land use, 94% less fertilizer and has zero pesticides, as well as 71% fewer carbon emissions. The produce also has an extended shelf life, higher nutritional value and is nutrient-dense.
"We're actually growing about half an acres worth of produce here, versus having to use that amount of land, and having to brave the elements and all of those fun things," Bosse said. "We can actually just do it in a cabinet, so it's great."
Harvesting started last week, with Ville Grille cooks eager to integrate the freshly grown produce.
"They're super excited. They are here from the beginning, like seed to harvest, and it's been a great response so far," Lindsay Klingenschmidt, sustainability manager for UofL Dining, said.
The ultimate goal is to get students engaged in how their food is grown.
"I want to get them to know where their food comes from and to be actively participating and seeing it happen, literally in their backyard," said Klingenschmidt.
Bosse hopes the program will cause new ideas to take root, growing the micro-program into something for the whole community.
"I would hope that somebody in this university gets inspired and we can take this and scale it up just for the local residents of Louisville, and especially west Louisville because I think this is something that can be brought to Louisville as a whole as a new way to grow in urban agriculture," she said.
Cannon Solutions America partnered with the university to sponsor the program.
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