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Hydroponic growing comes to Westfield

Presley’s Produce brings fresh fruits and vegetables to the high school in the form of a hydroponic lab involving culinary classes, the environmental club, and engineering classes.

Elizabeth Schuth

Staff Writer

May 10, 2022

The project was launched when Micheal Langan and his wife Rhea reached out to Westfield High School before winter break with the hope of donating some of their hydroponic equipment. Teachers Miss Gabby O’Neal and Mrs. Nikki Heflin quickly adopted the project.

“Having this opportunity is so major for our program,” Mrs. Heflin said, “it’s really the last missing link for us … [students] having a really personal connection with the food they’re actually cooking with it’s really going to take our program to the next level.”

Micheal and Rhea Langan of Presley’s Produce were eager to launch this project this year in order to commemorate their daughter Presley who would have been a senior this year. Presley, who was a freshman when she passed of cancer, found a place of belonging at Westfield, so her parents wanted to give back to a community that had been important to her.

“We’re going to continue doing this… charity so people remember her, don’t forget about her, it’s about her legacy,” Micheal Langan said. “There is a joy in watching something and creating something… especially if you can help someone along the way.”

The Environmental Club plans to use Presley’s Produce Hydroponic Lab to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the Culinary Arts program. According to the Environmental Club sponsor, O’Neal, the hydroponics club can be used to grow any kind of flowering plant like peppers and cucumbers. The environmental club tends to the plants during their weekly meetings.

“I planted all the strawberries in our grow tower currently,” sophomore Noah Milligan member of the environmental club said, “[I] am waiting till after spring break to chase the leaks on our new watering system.”

Along with strawberries, lettuce is being grown outside of the culinary arts classrooms and herbs are soon to follow. Construction and engineering classes will work with the Environmental Club to help fix any leaks. The project is important to the Westfield community as well as making the school more eco-friendly.

“I’m hoping that It will grow into a thing that Westfield can be known for being more sustainable based on projects like this,” O’Neal stated, “working with foundations that are really wanting to come together as a community.”

The future of the Hydroponic Lab will include more collaboration as the club works together with Presley’s Produce. They have also visited Maple Glen Elementary school’s greenhouse in order to explore what a greenhouse may look like at the high school in the future.

“I think [the project’s future] is really bright.” Environmental Club member Sarah Slover said, “Presley's Produce wants to do a lot with us and it’s super exciting because they have a lot of aspirations and this is an opportunity we didn’t think we’d get to have in this short time span.”

Presley’s Produce’s collaboration with the high school has opened the door to many new opportunities for teamwork and innovation. Hydroponics continues to be a learning experience as students involved gather knowledge on the process.

“I hope it brings people together,” Micheal Langan stated when asked how he sees the project would impact Westfield, “people of different traits different environments, can work towards a common goal, and everybody puts in their piece and the goal advances.”

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