Greening Our School, Sustaining Our Planet

This week marked another significant milestone in our journey towards our Strategic Plan goal of ‘Sustaining Our Future’. Ascham became the first school in Australia to install a Greenspace Microfarm on site in our Dining Room.

We were delighted to welcome the Fox family back to Ascham (Francesca is a 2012 graduate), who have pioneered vertical farming in the heart of Sydney. Their two large Macrofarms in the CBD and Edgecliff sustain around 35 Microfarms in restaurants, hotels, corporate businesses, and now the first school! Greenspace founders Peter and Monica Fox, and son Nick, arranged for the installation of our Microfarm unit on Monday, with Monica and Nick coming to speak to staff and the student Sustainability Committee on Tuesday.

Our vertical farm of edible micro salad greens and herbs is a fully self-contained hydroponic unit of live, growing plants. The process of growth and replenishment is simple, effective and sustainable. Every day right before lunch service, our Head of Catering Brendan Hunt will harvest a bowl full of fresh, nutritious, exquisite-tasting greens to add to the Dining Room salad bar. Once a week, a rep from Greenspace will visit to replace our used punnets of greens with fresh ones grown in their Macrofarm just near Town Hall. Some herbs in our Microfarm will take just one week to grow to full harvest size, while others will take around 4 weeks, so there will always be a rotation of fresh, nutrient-dense greens.

Right now we have micro salad leaves and delicious micro leaves of vegetables such as kale, broccoli, celery, red cabbage and snow pea shoots, which taste—incredibly—just like the whole vegetable! Herbs growing alongside include basil, parsley, red daikon, watercress and wheatgrass—each tiny leaf packing a power punch of flavour. Our Microfarm serves as a quiet reminder that focusing on slower, more mindful eating with friends and colleagues is nutritious for both body and mind.

Commercially grown leafy greens and herbs can take an average of nine days from harvest to plate—by the time they are picked, stored, packaged, transported, then sold—resulting in loss of nutrients and freshness. Food grown in Microfarms and harvested immediately is up to 40 times more nutrient rich. Packaging, food miles, energy and waste are reduced drastically, and water usage can be reduced by up to 95%.

We are so excited to have our own Greenspace Microfarm as part of our Ascham Catering, where our team feeds 130 boarders plus staff and day students every week. Fresh, nutritious food harvested right here on site—you just can’t beat that.

More information can be found here about Greenspace’s mission and groundbreaking work on their website.

Image: Nick Fox from Greenspace discusses the Microfarm with Year 12 students who sit on the Sustainability Committee.

2 May 2024

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