The Citadel's container farm is first of its kind for military college

The Citadel's container farm is first of its kind for military college

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Citadel's first harvest was ready from its container farm on Friday.

It's the college's Sustainability Project, part of The Zucker Family School of Education's STEM Center of Excellence.

Tiger Corner Farms Manufacturing a company based in Summerville provided the container farm.

It uses the process of Aeroponics, growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil and you control the environment.

The Citadel Cadets harvested five different types of lettuce.

It was Citadel grad and U.S. Marine 2nd Lt. Benjamin Cohen's idea to bring it to campus. He's also the Sustainability Project Founder.

"It is amazing, absolutely amazing to see what the cadets have done," Cohen said. "This entire project was envisioned for them, the idea being that we would build a farm on campus that is planned built managed developed expanded by cadets and that was really the selling point."

The 40 ft. container produced enough lettuce to cover about 2 acres of land. It totals up to several thousand heads, each that can be continually harvested

Another perk, it's organic and you don't have to worry about pesticides because it's enclosed.

Stage one of the process involves putting the seeds in trays. After they are watered they are moved to vertical panels where the lettuce will grow for four to six weeks. The plants are watered through state of the art technology and artificial lighting helps them grow.

The cadets can also track the system on a computer to make sure everything is running correctly.

Junior Cadet, Alex Richardson is the President of the Sustainability Project.

"You don't have to be a farmer to do something like this, I have no farming experience, I'm just an engineering student," Richardson said.

Matthew Miller is a sophomore cadet who's involved with the project as well.

"It's the community idea, this is something that as long as you have the right essentials you could put this in Antarctica, in Egypt, in Charleston, South Carolina," Miller said  "That's really the goal you want to provide for people that can't do that themselves."

Several restaurants near campus have agreed to use the lettuce.

The lettuce will also be used in the college's dining hall to feed the campus on a regular basis.

The cadets built the inside components of the container farm and planted the lettuce.

The harvest party is intended to help raise the funds for a second container for next year for the campus.

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