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Appleton International Airport starts growing its own greens in hydroponic garden

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 4:16 PM CDT
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GREENVILLE, Wis. (WBAY) - As part of renovations in the terminal, Appleton International Airport teamed up with ThedaCare to promote healthier travel. Even before the pandemic, the airport added hand sanitizing stations, healthier food options for on-the-go-travelers, as well as other upgrades. Now, some of the airport’s food will now be fresher than fresh.

Whether travelers are coming or going, at Appleton International Airport, they’re all greeted by a live plant wall. It’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also adds fresh air to the building. The restaurant menu has been upgraded to include more nutritious meals as well. It’s all part of ATW’s “Healthy Connection” partnership with ThedaCare.

According to Pat Tracey with Appleton International Airport, “We want to provide travelers with a safe and healthy traveling experience and we’re just always looking for how can we make the airport a safer and healthier place.”

It doesn’t get much healthier than farm to table.

“People are so sick and tired of getting food that’s traveled over 1500 miles, that only has a day or two of shelf life if any, and has lost a bunch of nutritional quality along the way. On top of all of the salmonella outbreaks with Romaine lettuces and things like that. We’re really getting tired of not having really fresh, high quality, affordable stuff,” says Alex Tyink with Fork Farms.

A recently-installed hydroponic garden, from Green Bay based Fork Farms, sits only about 15 feet away from the restaurant inside the airport terminal. The garden will produce 300 hundred pounds of fresh greens a year, food that will be harvested here and simply walked to the restaurant by its staff and incorporated in what they serve.

Tyink says, “These plants are only about a week old, just from planting the seed and so they have another two to three weeks left to go until they’ll be a nice big full head of lettuce and the staff here is going to put them into the sandwiches.”

While the hydroponics farm will produce enough leafy greens for sandwiches and burgers, the airport does hope to eventually expand the program,

Pat Tracey adds, “For business travelers who travel a lot on the road, the hardest thing is to eat healthy and so we’re trying to do our part and give people a good healthy option when they’re here in Appleton.”

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