West Central Area School District (WCA) in Barrett will unveil its new ‘Sota Grown hydroponic growing container Friday, Sept. 25, according to partners in the project.

The celebration will take place at 10 a.m. at WCA High School, County Road 2 in Barrett. (Take the first drive on the left past the main entrance to the school and go directly behind the school. ) The event will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the partners as well as a demonstration and tour of the system.

This ‘Sota Grown project utilizes a GroShed container manufactured in Emily. This prefabricated and self-contained ecosystem integrates automation and maximizes efficiency, demonstrating the capabilities of hydroponic agriculture.

“We are excited to have West Central Area Schools as a partner in this ‘Sota Grown project,” said Ryan Rooney, energy services manager with Runestone Electric Association. “This project provides hands-on experience for WCA students resulting in year-round local produce, even during Minnesota’s long winters.”

WCA Schools plan to expand its indoor growing space in the near future with the addition of a modern, year-round greenhouse that students will use to learn modern crop and vegetable production, all while continuing to raise produce to be used at local food shelves and for educational purposes in the school setting.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“This ‘Sota Grown container farming project showcases Runestone Electric Association’s innovation and collaboration with community partners. This project uses electricity in new ways, which expands indoor growing opportunities,” said David Ranallo, director of culture, communications, marketing and member services at Great River Energy. “We are happy to help bring this ‘Sota Grown project to West Central Area Schools.”

With support from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), Horizon Public Health offers mini-grant funding to schools and organizations to help increase access to healthy foods in the community. Crystal Hoepner, Horizon Public Health educator and SHIP program coordinator, said, “We are excited to have had the opportunity to provide a SHIP mini-grant and be one of the partners with West Central Area Schools so that fresh produce can be made possible with projects like this.”

Future plans include opportunities for community access and education on hydroponic growing techniques.