New hydroponic greenhouse offers new way to feed Dayton’s food bank

Dozens of rows of small green seedlings are peeking through the dirt, hoping soon to blossom into a small forest of lettuce and leafy greens. Dayton’s Beverly K. Greenhouse is beginning to grow at the Foodbank as the first batch of vegetables takes root in the months-old facility.

The 6,000 square-foot greenhouses officially opened in September, debuting its hydroponic technology designed to sustainably produce tens of thousands of heads of lettuce year-round. Since its ribbon-cutting, James Hoffer, the garden manager at Foodbank, said his staff and volunteers have been preparing the grow channels and getting seedlings growing in the greenhouse nursery. They started planting those seedlings in early fall.

As of mid-November, the greenhouse was at about 25% capacity. “Obviously, we are just getting started in this greenhouse,” Hoffer said, “so we are experimenting with a lot of different things to determine what our clients are going to like and not like.”

The facility was built through donations from the Greene family in honor of their matriarch, Beverly Greene, who died of cancer in 2019. Her family said the donation was meant to honor her commitment to serving the Dayton community.

By the time the greenhouse is at full capacity, Hoffer said it should be producing up to 100,000 heads of lettuce every year, in addition to everything grown in the food bank’s seasonal garden.

“We have had aquaponics and hydroponics here in the past, but on a very, very, very small scale,” he said. “This is going to increase our production probably tenfold.”

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