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Dublin City Schools partners with lettuce farm to feed students

The district partnered with R&G Farms to use locally-grown, hydroponic lettuce in their cafeterias.

DUBLIN, Ga. — Colby and Alexis Edwards from R&G Farms in Dublin started growing hydroponic lettuce in their two backyard greenhouses 11 years ago.

"Our research showed that nobody at the time was growing lettuce," Colby Edwards said.

"Hydroponic is just water and all the nutrients that go into it. The water circulates in a big 500-gallon tank, and it feeds the plants 24/7," Alexis Edwards said.

A computer monitors the system to keep the water and pH levels balanced. It allows them to grow year round, which made them a perfect supplier for Dublin City Schools.

"We do have a delivery set up for every two weeks on the lettuce coming in, and what we do with the lettuce is we use it to make delicious salads, of course, and we use it with our hamburgers and chicken sandwiches and things that children love," said Dublin City Schools nutrition director Pamela Jones.

She and Susie Dasher Elementary kitchen manager Ernestine O'Neal says it's the freshest lettuce they've ever had.

"It was greener, like it was more crisp. It just was so bright and stole the attention from the meat, actually, which is a good thing," O'Neal said.

"When I sell you my product, I'm picking it the night before I'm delivering it to you. You can't get any fresher than that unless you're picking it yourself," Alexis Edwards said.

"You know, with all the problems that you see with lettuce coming in from other places, you can come out here and look. I mean, the environment it's in is very clean," Colby Edwards said.

Jones says it's an absolute hit with the students.

"We provide our kids good nutritious meal that's grown right in the town we live in, and it shows are kids that if it's something they're interested in, that might could be a future for them," Jones said.

The Edwards' greenhouses can hold up to 13,000 lettuce heads.
R&G Farms also sells to Laurens, Baldwin, and Wilkinson County schools.

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