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Appleton International Airport harvests first batch of lettuce from hydroponics gardening system

Posted at 5:41 AM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 14:04:17-05

APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) -- The Appleton International Airport just got a little greener. A new hydroponics gardening system is keeping things fresh in the terminal.

The airport just harvested its first batch of lettuce from their new hydroponics gardening system.

Todd Arter is the airport custodian and one of his duties is to water and harvest the lettuce. He was also designated as the first taste tester.

"Fresh, crisp, the taste just melts in your mouth," said Arter. "It's not like the lettuce you buy in the store. Very good. Very fresh."

The Flex Farm system can be found right on the concourse steps away from the Fox Cities Eatery.

"When you walk into our refrigerator at the restaurant, it's like walking into a fresh farm field in California," said Pat Tracey, the Marketing Manager at the Appleton International Airport. "The smell of the fresh greens literally overpowers you."

It was made right here in Northeast Wisconsin at Fork Farms.

This is all a part of the airport's Healthy Connections initiative.

"We are very committed to helping our travelers to fly safely and healthy," said Tracey. "We think that the food we serve is part of that and so we want to provide our customers with the best possible food experience."

The lot of leafy greens took 4 weeks to grow and harvest. Keep in mind some of the produce we receive here in Wisconsin is up to 3 weeks old by the time it gets to the grocery store.

"So here's an opportunity for us to grow our own pesticide-free, chemical-free fresh greens 15-feet from our restaurant," said Tracey.

The quality of the lettuce is noticeable.

"Very good," said Arter.

The lettuce will be served on all burgers and sandwiches at the Fox Cities Eatery inside the airport.

The black bean burger is their recommended super healthy menu item.

To check out the full menu, click here.