DENVER – On Friday afternoon, Bruce Randolph School in Denver celebrated the grand opening of its hydroponic farm inside the school. This is the second school-based garden/farm at the school.
“It's a really cool experience to like...see the growing process and we really enjoyed harvesting, and planting and all of that,” Cindy Vasquez, a junior at Bruce Randolph High School, said.
Through a partnership with Teens for Food Justice and a $500,000 Healthy Foods for Denver’s Kids grant in addition to $1.14 million in bond funds approved by Denver voters in November 2020, the school built the soil-less, nutrient rich farm with an ability to grow 10,000 pounds of food a year.
“A lot of our families are deeply engaged in work around food insecurity. So when we think about the needs of our community, urban agriculture really could be something that is serving the needs of our community. But it can also bring some really amazing opportunities for kids,” said Melissa Boyd, principal at Bruce Randolph School.
Teens for Food Justice CEO Kathy Soll said this is the first hydroponic farm her organization has built outside of New York City.
“Teens for Food Justice strives to eradicate food insecurity through youth led and community based solutions,” Soll said. “This is exactly the kind of city and culture that our organization can thrive in.”
Vasquez said the farm allows the school to serve fresh produce daily and send produce boxes homes with teachers and students.
“I'm from Elyria-Swansea, we're kind of like a food desert area and we don't have any nearby grocery stores,” Vasquez said. “I feel proud of all of my classmates and how far this farm has come.”
Vasquez never imagined she would get into farming but said learning how to use her own hands to address her community’s needs is empowering.
Toward the end of Friday’s ribbon cutting, The National Western Stock Show awarded one student who has been working on the hydroponic farm a $25,000 scholarship.