Manna House opens lettuce garden to feed the hungry

MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. - It's a high tech solution to a low tech problem. A group in Huntsville has built a garden to feed thousands of people, and they don't need an ounce of dirt or a minute of sunlight. The new Manna House garden raises thousands of heads of lettuce.

"It was in the heart to do something to help people," Manna House garden coordinator Gary Jordan said.

Manna House leaders recently went looking for a new supplier of greens.

"We make about 3,000 salads a week," Manna House director Fran Fluhler said.

Every week, the house in Huntsville helps feed thousands of hungry people.

"They come to us for help. Many of them don't qualify for food stamps. They have an income," Fluhler said.

So, Fluhler tasked handyman Jordan with retrofitting an ordinary building near Laceys Spring into a massive grow operation.

"We can do about 5,000 plants a week," Jordan said.

"We can produce 21,000 heads of lettuce in a month's time," Fluhler said.

The hydroponic garden now raises six different varieties of fresh lettuce, which means no more trucking in salads from California.

"This will last about a month in the fridge at home," Jordan said.

Fran and Gary say they've been picking for months now, so they're well past the point of, 'can it be done?' They say what they need more of now are able hands to help them plant and pick, as well as restaurants and caterers where they can bring their produce.

"They could come and help pack. Or maybe you're an agricultural student who wants to learn this skill," Fluhler said.

Fluhler says they'll tithe half of the lettuce grown to nearby churches, give out a portion at Manna House and sell the remainder.

If you'd like to read more about the hydroponic garden, you can find information at the Manna House website.

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