New technology helps students grow greens for MSU dining halls

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Springfield, Mo. -- Missouri State University students are growing produce year-round inside a residence hall and now they're delivering the fresh food.

Rachel Veenstra is a Missouri State University student growing produce with new technology through the winter months.

"We can grow when it's negative 3 degrees outside which is where it got to this winter," Veenstra said.

Inside the basement of Kirkland Residence Hall, the vertical hydroponic growing towers is where the plants are harvested.

"We can produce fresh produce for the students to eat at the dining halls and for the chefs to use at the dining hall which is awesome," Veenstra said. "The water hits the top of the wicking strip and will travel all the way down and the plant roots which are in these sponges can get the nutrients and the water that they need.."

Veenstra picks the fresh greens for students to eat and then delivers it every week.

"We've got some Kale and some basil, parsley, I think there's some cilantro in here so yeah it is really pretty it smells really good," Veenstra said.

"I think it impacts us greatly as far as having fresh vegetables on campus," Executive Sous Chef Nathan Frazo said. "We use the greens a lot on our salad bar, the herbs we use in our pasta sauces and our everyday cooking. The students love it. I think it's great, nowadays the focus is on where your food comes from."

Some of the greens are coming from right inside one of Missouri state's residence halls.

The produce is also distributed at catering events, and local businesses.

Similar towers are also expected to be placed throughout Missouri State's campus.

Students are also working on a side project to grow plants for a butterfly garden.