MCHS teacher pitches ‘Acre in a Box’ to City Council
Moffat County High School is looking to become the first public high school in the country to feature a hydroponic farm utilizing recycled insulated shipping containers to grow produce hydroponically, according to a presentation to City Council members Aug. 25 from MCHS Business Teacher Krista Schenck.
The project, called “Acre in a Box” is off the ground due to the purchase of the $250,000 shipping container by Tri-State Generation and Transmission. Now, the school is looking for the ideal place to construct the container near the high school, allowing it to run on the school’s electrical grid and receive water. The cost of construction is roughly $10,000. Anson Excavating will construct the site on school grounds.
The school district asked City Council for funding, and will also ask County Commissioners for funding for construction.
Following the presentation and later discussion regarding funding for the project, councilors unanimously approved up to one-third of the funding of the construction project. Mayor Jarrod Ogden abstained from the voting. Mayor Ogden is employed by Moffat County School District.
The estimated date of delivery for the shipping container is early October.
The project will also serve as a valuable learning opportunity for Agriculture students at Moffat County High School, Schenck said to City Council members.
According to the “Acre in a box” project, the system uses hydroponics to grow crops inside the container. Hydroponics is a type of Horticulture and a subset of hydroculture, which is a method of growing plants, usually crops, without soil, by using mineral nutrient solutions in an aqueous solvent. Terrestrial plants may be grown with only their roots exposed to the nutritious liquid, or, in addition, the roots may be physically supported by an inert medium such as perlite, gravel, or other substrates.
In her presentation to City Council, Schenck cited the ability to grow 130 crops inside the container, ranging from kale – which is required for testing purposes – to carrots, radishes, microgreens and more. Turnaround time for crops inside the container is roughly 6-8 weeks.
“One of the stipulations is that all the produce must remain local,” Schenck said. “We can use them in our food service program, or we can donate them to the food bank, or we can sell them at a local farmer’s market…whatever the kids decide to do.
“Not only will Ag students learn about growing crops, business students within the high school will learn about marketing crops, learning about business and selling, pricing crops, and more.
“…There’s just so much potential here with this project, and really high-paying, high-demand jobs that our kids can start learning about when it comes to the agriculture career.”
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Over 7% of the Moffat County School District’s alternative school has tested positive for COVID-19, meaning that staff will be required to wear masks over the next week.