Photo courtesy of WCTC Landon Keithan, a Mount View Middle School eight-grader, harvests hydroponically grown lettuce in his WCTC classroom.

BELFAST — Students in the Employability Skills Program (ESP) at Waldo County Technical Center (WCTC) have gotten a taste for fresh produce and the opportunity to grow it themselves, under the guidance of ESP instructor, Holly Shue. 

The class grew Adrianna lettuce using a hydroponic growing technique called the Kratky Method.  They sprouted seeds in rockwool, then placed those sprouts under lights in a carefully measured nutrient-based water solution. This method enabled students to plant the lettuce seeds right in their classroom and harvest full grown heads in just 30 days. 

When asked the purpose of teaching students how to grow lettuce hydroponically, Shue explained that she wants to give her class the confidence to grow their own food and the knowledge to do that in the simplest and most efficient way possible. Students have already stated that they want to teach their parents what they have learned at WCTC and grow their own lettuce at home this winter! 

Teakin Nickerson, a ninth-grader from Searsport District High School said this experience was “really fun because it was hands-on.” She also stated that it is neat because “plants grow a lot faster this way”. 

The ESP class was able to enjoy the fruits of their harvest by creating and eating a salad made from the lettuce they grew right in their own classroom. The program plans to plant a new batch of lettuce next week.