A Fresh Harvest at UMass Dartmouth
The lettuce being served up at UMass Dartmouth is coming out of an old shipping container, but this stuff is just as fresh, maybe even fresher, than the greens that come out of the ground.
Nearly 3,000 heads of lettuce, as well as herbs, can be grown in a newly received 40 ft. insulated container outfitted with vertical hydroponics, LED lighting and intuitive climate control allowing growth year-round.
The container was provided by Boston-based agriculture technology company Freight Farms as part of a pilot series taking place on several campuses across the state.
UMass Dartmouth's executive head chef Kevin Gibbons demonstrated the recently harvested greens for students at the campus' main dining hall Thursday. He said the lettuce, which is now being served on campus, has a very fresh taste.
"You really don't need to do a lot with it," Gibbons said. "It has no bugs, no soil, no pesticides. Just a light vinegar a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, that's all you need."
The addition of the Freight Farm container compliments the campus' new farm-to-table initiative offering new and revamped options for students, including an expanded vegan menu.
The container arrived on campus in November, and greens take less than two months to fully grow before harvested and served on campus.
Gibbons said the system does cut down on the cost of produce, but more it improves sustainability for the university.