Project Green Thumb: Feeding the Homeless
What started as a goal to grow our own produce has thrived into a ministry capable of feeding many of our residents and guests on a year-round basis. With the help of the George W. Jenkins Fund within the Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland, Lighthouse Ministries expanded its hydroponic garden to over 7,000 plants in the last few years.
With traditional gardening, vegetables grow a large root system to search for food and water. With hydroponics, food and water are fed directly to the plants’ roots. This process enables plants to spend more energy growing above the surface at a rate two times faster than traditional gardening. Hydroponic gardens require only 20% of the space your typical outdoor garden requires, which means we’re growing five times what we would normally be able to on our campus.
There are two benefits to harvesting our own produce. First, we can grow a wider variety of fruits and vegetables than we could ever afford to buy, but, secondly, the garden allows for work therapy opportunities through our internship program. In fact, the garden has been run for the last year by Gary, a previous resident and intern who has become proficient in horticulture.
(Supplies provided by: http://www.hydrotaste.com/)
Gary came to the ministry in February 2011. A week after he graduated from the program in August of the same year, Gary was approached with the opportunity of managing Lighthouse’s Hydroponic Garden.