Salvation Army of Jacksonville uses aeroponic gardens to stock food pantry

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Salvation Army of Jacksonville is making its own produce to feed residents and others in the community. This new garden is uniquely providing fresh food options.

“We are also growing kale, cilantro, oregano,” said Tami Gonyea, The Salvation of Army of Jacksonville Director of Social Services.

These are just a few of the items the Salvation Army of Jacksonville is growing in its garden towers.

The food is being grown, in an innovative way, through aeroponics by using these air pods.

The aeroponic towers are growing produce that will be harvested to provide fresh food options to those who typically would not have access to nutritious food otherwise.

Aeroponics is a process that grows plants in an air environment rather than soil - allowing the organization to use its shelter as a garden also.

Aeroponic systems use water, liquid nutrients, and a soilless growing medium to grow more colorful, tastier, pleasant smelling, and incredibly nutritious produce quickly and efficiently.

The Salvation Army Tower Gardens grow a variety of lettuces, kale, spinach, microgreens, and herbs in an indoor environment.

“We’ll be expanding to grow more lettuce as well when the fourth tower is up and running and tomatoes as well as cucumbers so that we can utilize those items on our salad bar, in our cooking for meals for residents, as well as what goes out to the community through our meal ministry dinners that go out 365 days a year,” said Gonyea.

The Salvation Army acquired a 4th aeroponic Tower Garden that will begin growing tomatoes, baby eggplants, and mini peppers outside in a location that receives direct sunlight to aid in providing a variety of meals for those staying in the shelter.

The organization says it is important for them to be able to sustain their own produce.

“A year ago, it was a struggle to find fresh produce and meat through our vendors because when everything hit, and everything shut down that became such a drastic change of having access to everything and then no access. So, with our current towers, it’s not enough to self-sustain 100% but it’s a great start. And we would not have to worry about this in the future, should something else happen,” said Gonyea.

The long-term goal is to reach self-sustainment when it comes to producing production.

“I would love to expand what we currently have to be 18 to 24 of them. They would likely be right out here. Growing outside. Growing tomatoes and peppers and eggplants and all kinds of fantastic stuff. So that we could be truly self-sustaining on our produce production not only for our meals for residents but also to go out through our food pantry to the population we serve there,” said Gonyea.

To reach this goal, the Salvation Army is collecting donations. You can donate by calling 904-356-8641 or heading to www.salvationarmynefl.org.


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