Wouldn’t it be super cool if OU had a way to grow its own fresh produce and serve it on campus? Seems pretty healthy, clean and green, right? This is exactly what Housing and Food Services thought when they teamed up with the student organization OUr Earth several months ago to bring a Freight Farms Leafy Green Machine to campus. What is a Leafy Green Machine? Why is it important? What can it do for our campus? Those questions and more are answered below!
This is a Leafy Green Machine, Housing and Food Services’ latest innovative and sustainable investment. Located just north of Cate Main, this system is bringing a 365-day produce-growing season to OU’s campus. The Leafy Green Machine is run by Housing and Food Services with the support of OUr Earth, a student organization dedicated to educating students about various environmental issues impacting the world today.
Through state-of-the-art climate control technology, this 40’ x 8’ x 9.5’ upcycled shipping container is equipped with the tools to harvest crops year-round. The entire system is run by an in-farm controller. Environmental sensors balance temperature, humidity and CO2 levels to ensure a perfect growing environment. A nutrient-rich water solution is distributed directly to the roots of the produce from a closed-loop hydroponic system, which only uses 10 gallons of water a day. A high-efficiency LED lighting system mimics sunlight in order to stimulate photosynthesis. All of these elements come together to ensure an ideal growth environment no matter the weather conditions outside.
The Leafy Green Machine has room to grow lettuces, brassicas and herbs. Everything produced by the farm will initially be used in Cate Restaurants.
“This project has tremendous potential and implications for Housing and Food Services. We are providing something that most schools have possibly never heard of. On top of that, we are on the forefront of a new, sustainable, eco-friendly practice that can and will provide us with produce year-round. This can and probably will evolve into something bigger.”
-Windeon McDowell, Housing and Food Services Freight Farm and Leafy Green Machine Key Operator
Think the Leafy Green Machine is too good to be true? Come see for yourself at the grand opening celebrating the first harvest from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at Cate Social Lounge. Have the chance to taste test some leafy green samples and take a tour of the farm! We are so excited to sink our teeth into the first round of produce! Are you?