Idea Public Schools program shows middle school students hydroponic farming

Idea East Side is first K-12 school in nation to have program

SAN ANTONIO – Idea Public Schools unveiled its first “Leafy Green Machine” on Thursday in an effort to connect school cafeterias and students with local farmers and ranchers.

The modified shipping container grows various kinds of crops using minimal electricity and water. All the produce goes to the school cafeteria.

The machine is part of a pilot program for hydroponic farming. Officials said the technology will engage students, especially those in sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

The program goes hand-in-hand with classes such as biology, chemistry and math.

“It’s a great addition to our program because it's showing students the tech side of agriculture, fully automated. Students are able to see firsthand how tech plays a role in agriculture by using computers (and) chemistry of chemicals,” said Hernan Colmemero, CNP farm manager for Idea Public Schools.

Idea East Side is the first K-12 school in the nation to have this kind of program.