Zag Dining Opens School Year with Hydroponic Garden

The garden will yield about 300 heads of lettuce a month and serve as a learning lab to Gonzaga University. 

SPOKANE, Washington. August 29, 2012 – As preserving our Earth’s resources becomes increasingly imperative, research shows that hydroponic gardening has become the sustainable choice for the future. This school year Gonzaga University’s dining services, Zag Dining by Sodexo, took action by transforming a window of their dining room into a hydroponic garden. The garden is currently growing two varieties of Bibb lettuce and producing about 300 heads a month, which will account for about 10- 15% of Gonzaga’s lettuce needs. The garden, which is in Phase 1, will also serve as learning lab for Gonzaga University students, faculty and staff with the hopes of a large expansion during the planning and construction of the University Center.

Zag Dining by Sodexo, has been working with a local Spokane area company, C&S Hydrohuts, for over a year in order to correctly implement the garden. While going through a year long process in order to receive the proper approvals and funding, Zag Dining started purchasing hydroponic lettuce from C&S in order to support a local company, serve a sustainable product and to begin to educate its customers on the benefits of hydroponics.  The first seedlings were planted this past July in the COG, Zag Dining’s main dining hall.

Thomas Morisette, Zag Dining’s Certified Executive Chef, has played an integral role in purchasing and has helped the garden literally grow. “By watching your own food grow it gives you a deeper appreciation and respect for the ingredients. The hydroponic garden has helped me take great pride in knowing we will be contributing to the need of locally grown produce as well as supporting a local company.”

By being one of the first dining programs to integrate a hydroponic garden into a college campus, the setting for the garden has played a significant role. Chuck Faulkinberry, Zag Dining’s Resident District Manager, sees hydroponic gardening as a crucial need for our future and is counting on this generation of students to take it to the next level. “It really is the agriculture of the future. If students really took this idea and ran with it, they could take this type of gardening around the world and help feed 3rd World Countries where traditional farming is not always possible.”

Looking to the future seems to be a common theme among the Zag Dining team. Dan Harris, Zag Dining’s Resident Dining Director and Sustainability Coordinator, is passionate about the garden for many reasons. “I believe it creates an opportunity for student engagement while furthering our sustainability efforts by creating awareness. We are using Phase 1 in the COG, so we can learn from our efforts now to vastly increase the overall project in the future.”

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