Whitley County Hydro-gardens students sell produce to local restaurants

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Posted at 5:54 PM, Apr 04, 2022

WHITLEY COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Wrigley in downtown Corbin has a mission to nurture the community one inspired plate at a time. The business partners with around 20 farmers and growers from around the county for the freshest ingredients.

The Wrigley Owner/Chef, Kristin Smith, says, "Since day one, seven and a half years ago, as a farmer myself we always just wanted to make sure that our mission was to fulfill buying local, keeping a super tight and fresh menu that rotates almost every week."

For the past couple of weeks, some of the Wrigley’s produce has come from the Whitley County High School Hydro-Gardens. A class of students learning to grow their own lettuce and, "They're learning how to package, how to market, how to deliver,” says Smith.

The restaurant's owner says she never imagined that she would buy her produce from high schoolers. It's always something that she had hoped would eventually happen in this community and now it is.

Whitley County High School Hydro-Garden’s student, Leslie Monhollen, says, "From seed to harvest it takes around seven to eight weeks. And they start in the germination chamber with their little seeds and from there, they've moved on once they're ready to their growing systems."

After another three to four weeks it's time to harvest. Educators say nearly $10,000 has been invested into this lettuce growing system to teach students how agriculture has to adapt.

Whitley County High School Agriculture teacher, Brian Prewitt, says, "Our population is growing, and farmland is going down, so, we have to figure out how to be innovative as an agriculture industry."

Now, these students make back more than $200 a week. The Wrigley’s owner says there was a time she worried about the future of agriculture -- but these students have left her very hopeful.

Smith says, "For these students to get hands-on experience at such a young age, I think it makes our future look super bright in Whitley County."

The Whitley County High School Hydro-Garden is preparing to open to the public again this spring. If you're interested in getting some plants of your own, lettuce not being sold to local businesses is sold at the school weekly. Plant sales will begin April 11th to mid-May.