Rescue mission

Gospel Rescue Mission ready for first hydroponic harvest | News

The Gospel Rescue Mission hydroponic farm is scheduled to harvest its first lettuce crop at 2 p.m. on May 5.

The farm, dubbed Fresh Start, was built inside a shipping container by Freight Farms, an agricultural technology company.

“Basically, there’s hardly any dirt,” said Rich Schaus, director of the Gospel Rescue Mission. “There are things that look like dirt, but they grow almost entirely with water. It also means that in the box we will be growing 2 1/2 acres of crops in a very small area.

“We will be able to grow 12 months a year.”

Schaus said the plan is to grow leafy green vegetables.

“Kale, spinach, lettuce – we’ll experiment with what sells best,” he said. “Our real vision is that we will sell about half of it in order to support and maintain this part of our ministry. The other half will be donated.”

Josh Blair is in charge of the project, and this is his third job with the mission since joining as a volunteer.

“When they came up with the idea for the farm, I was interested and spoke to Rich,” Blair said. “He said he was looking for someone to supervise him.”

Blair is thrilled that the farm is finally generating a product that can not only provide food for families, but also help the mission.

“To see all of this happen is pretty neat,” he said. “Getting from just an idea to producing food is going to be quite rewarding.”

The farm grows different varieties of lettuce – salanova green butter and salanova red butter.

Once the seeds are planted, Blair said it takes about three weeks before they are transferred to vertical panels, which he calls the “nursery”, where they mature until they can be harvested. and sold.

“Each panel has five channels, and you can put up to 15 plants in each channel,” he said. “It depends on what you’re growing. You can put up to 75 plants in a panel.”

Schaus and Blair say they see the benefits Fresh Start can bring to the mission and the Muskogee region.

“We would love to partner with everyone we work with and all kinds of different agencies,” Schaus said. “These residents here who are looking for a job and who have questionable backgrounds, I think it’s going to be a blessing for them. We’ll see who’s ready when we get to that stage, but right now it’s an operation of one man.”