Longview ISD installs new greenhouse to feed students

Feeding thousands of students in a school district is not cheap, but Longview ISD is cutting back the cost with their new greenhouse.
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 12:03 PM CST

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Feeding thousands of students in a school district is not cheap, especially at today’s prices. An East Texas school district has found a way to cut those costs with a five-acre garden, and Longview ISD is cutting back the cost even more with their new greenhouse.

Longview ISD Director of Child Nutrition Phyllis Dozier and District Gardens and Farm to Table Coordinator James Beasley take a look at seedlings planted inside the Longview ISD greenhouse.

“We have, in the past, purchased plants and put them in the garden. This year we will, as you can see in the greenhouse that the plants have already been started that we will use to put into the garden,” Dozier said.

“We’re saving a lot of money by growing all these things ourselves. For example, a flat of vegetables, for instance, is about 6 dollars at Lowes or other places. A package of seed that’ll grow 200 plants is about 12 dollars,” Beasley said.

Last fall they planted turnip seeds in the garden.

“We bought 12 dollars’ worth of turnip green seeds, and we produced 976 pounds,” Beasley said.

They didn’t have the greenhouse to start the plants last fall, but they learned with the turnip greens they saved a significant amount.

“We saved the district 3,500 dollars,” Beasley said.

KLTV’s Jamey Boyum talks with the people coordinating a new greenhouse meant to provide nutritious food for Longview ISD students.

The greenhouse will be used to germinate plants from seed. Then the plants will be moved to the garden. The sun warms the greenhouse, but it has a system of fans to cool it down in the summer. If that’s not enough, it also has a special cooling wall.

“Water will trickle down these wall panels here and air is sucked through that and reduces the temperature in the greenhouse,” Beasley said.

It can incubate plants year-round. And, speaking of round, they have a full cycle of planting and recycling planned.

“Plant the seeds, harvest the products, feed the kids, and we have compost accelerators for food waste that we process, bring back to the garden, fertilize the garden,” Dozier said.

So, that trashed food becomes fertilizer which completes the LISD circle of food. Maybe that should be a song.

LISD students will take educational field trips to the garden and greenhouse. For the first time, they are incubating broccoli, which the district uses nearly every day, and are even trying to grow pineapples. The greenhouse cost about 57 thousand dollars and was paid for by a grant.

KLTV's Jamey Boyum gives a behind-the-scenes look at Longview ISD's new greenhouse.