At about 400 schools across the US, you can walk into the building and see a bright, shining light that seems to beckon you towards it. The light is surrounded by a tall cylinder of white. Usually, the light is surrounded by lush, leafy greens peeking out from the top and through narrow openings in the cylinder. The whole thing seems to glow. “What is this thing?” people ask. It’s a farm… indoors! That glowing hydroponic vertical farm is the Flex Farm, made by Fork Farms, a mission-first agriculture technology company. The Flex Farm is a fully self- contained farm that requires just a standard wall outlet, 9 square feet of space, and a few basic growing supplies to produce leafy greens, herbs, and other plants. Classroom teachers and food service directors have embraced the Flex Farm as a year-round indoor solution to grow fresh food for their school communities and to teach immersive STEM education. Fork Farms has partnered with hundreds of schools to bring hydroponic growing to the K-12 setting. The Flex Farm is a hands-on learning tool for students to understand where food comes from, how it grows, and how fresh food impacts their health. Kids participate in making seeds sprout and transform over a few short weeks into a full head of lettuce. Many times, it’s their first exposure to food that’s not already prepared on their plate. In a study at one of our partner schools, researchers found that after growing with the Flex Farm, students ate 33% more fresh vegetables, and their positive perceptions of fresh food increased by 46%!
In a study at one of our partner schools, researchers found that after growing with the Flex Farm, students ate 33% more fresh vegetables, and their positive perceptions of fresh food increased by 46%!
Beyond the classroom, food service programs use the Flex Farm to provide hyperlocal fresh produce in the cafeteria. The Flex Farm is a powerful tool with 288 plant spaces for growing. In a four-week growing cycle, the farm can produce over 500 servings of produce that meet the mandatory leafy green vegetable component on a school lunch tray. Menasha Joint School District (JSD) food service program in Wisconsin has grown the majority of the district’s leafy greens since 2019 in their 12-unit farm. This has allowed their program to provide a consistent source of nutrient-dense produce grown on-site, mitigating any concerns about supply chain disruptions or increasing prices.
Menasha JSD has also embraced their farm to expand students’ palates and
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