What’s the Problem We’re Trying to Solve?

Across the state, one of the many needs we work to support is around food insecurity. Each of the schools served by local CIS affiliates has a food pantry that is stocked in partnership with local organizations, donors, and businesses. What is often lacking is access to fresh and healthy food that comes from farms.

What’s Our Solution?

A Flex Farm is a hydroponic garden the size of a fridge

A Flex Farm is a self-contained hydroponic garden can grow up to 25 pounds of fresh produce every 3 weeks.

Photo used with permission from Fork Farms.

We are working with our network’s local affiliates to install Flex Farms at schools supported by CIS. These hydroponic gardens serve as a year-round food source and learning engagement tool for students. Flex Farms are reliable, compact, efficient, and (best of all) they can grow as much as 25 pounds of food every 3 weeks! Each unit also comes with a robust curriculum from Fork Farms designed to teach students about agriculture, healthy eating, and food history.

Where Are They?

In spring 2022, Flex Farms were installed across the state at 2 elementaries (CIS of Tacoma), 1 high school (CIS of Peninsula), 1 high school and 1 middle school (CIS of Whatcom-Skagit) and 1 elementary (CIS of the Blue Mountain Region).

Banner Image Caption: Students at Green Park Elementary learn how to assemble their new hydroponic garden. (Photo Credit: CIS of the Blue Mountain Region).

What Do Students Think?

Students really got their gears turning about how to use the produce from their gardens. Here are some of their own ideas:

  • Donate produce to food banks and homeless shelters
  • Set up a farmers market booth to sell produce and fund other school projects
  • Grow strawberries and make special desserts for a bake sale

Who Helped?

This project was brought to life with generous contributions by the Fork Farms team, individual donors, Arista Networks, Community Health Plan of WA, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, and Whole Kids Foundation.

Community Health Plan of Washington: The Power of Community
Virginia Mason Franciscan Health