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Hydroponic garden helps The Community Table feed Eau Claire

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 6:35 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Community Table in Eau Claire has adopted one of the latest enhancements to gardening. The new tool will allow the non-profit to supply fresh produce, while also conserving water, energy and money. All thanks to a gift from a community partner.

For 28 years The Community Table has been committed to fighting food insecurity in Eau Claire

“We serve anywhere from 50-100 people per day,” said Community Table Executive Producer, TJ Atkins.

Operations Manager Peter Raleigh says the non-profit heavily relies on donations to feed their guests.

“Were always dependent on the generosity of other people,” Raleigh said.

Now thanks to a special donation from Marshfield Clinic, The Community Table has more control over what they put on other’s plates.

“A hydroponic garden is a garden that is self-contained you don’t need soil you don’t even need light it just everything is in the unit there are pearl lights that work on a schedule,” said Community Benefits Coordinator for Marshfield, JoAnna Bernklau says the hydroponic garden will allow The Community Table to harvest lettuce, spinach, fruits and more all year long.

“We know a number of individuals are food insecure and have a hard time getting access to food let alone nutritious food ... when you don’t have access to healthy nutritious food it makes it really hard to perform well in other areas of your life,” Bernklau said.

Raleigh says at very little cost to the non-profit this garden should be able to supply fresh lettuce each day.

“This lettuce is absolutely fresh today the lettuce that is donated to us has already been on the shelf for three or four days what we get we have to throw away half of it. Here we don’t need to throw anything away we just come over here pick out the lettuce and that’s your lettuce for the day,” Raleigh said.

Atkins says this garden is filling in a huge gap.

“In the fall and in the winter those things get hard to get where now we can grow our own and not worry about an expense, we can now use towards something else our guests may need,” Atkins said.

Allowing The Community Table to continue serving.

“We are here and we are here for anybody. I don’t care what your situation is,” Raleigh said.

And now, growing for our neighbors.

This isn’t the first garden that Marshfield Clinic Health Systems has donated. In the past two years they have gifted hydroponic gardens to multiple schools and community organizations within Barron and Rusk County.

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