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Sustainability Partnership grant uses lighting to grow indoor garden

In 2013, Growing Opportunities was awarded a Sustainability Partnership Grant by the City of Bloomington's Department of Economic and Sustainable Development to fund indoor demonstration gardens at Head Start and Stone Belt as small-scale examples of how Growing Opportunities will farm. Head Start students and Stone Belt clients are involved in every step of the hydroponic growing process, including starting seeds, transplanting, harvesting, cooking, and the best part -- tasting!

To grow plants indoors, you need to get the right lighting equipment. We were lucky to have the help of experts from Worm's Way when we purchased our lighting. We purchased the Pioneer VIII Bloom, 8 Tube Fluorescent Fixture for all of the indoor gardens because they efficiently cover the growing area of the hydrotables. Running 18 hours on, six hours off to duplicate natural sunlight, these fixtures use 432 watts. The fixtures provide steady, high intensity, low-heat light that is safe for plants and for people working on the gardens.

Using these lights, we were able to harvest the heads of swiss chard and lettuce in approximately 60 days, which is the typical time it takes to harvest these crops when grown in soil outside. We are confident we will be able to shorten the time to harvest our next crop as we master hydroponic growing methods. 

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