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Indoor garden puts fresh greens on the menu at Blue Hills Regional

Students in the culinary arts program at Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton are adding fresh herbs and greens to their meals, thanks to an indoor garden paid for with a grant from the Rachael Ray Foundation.

The students are growing basil, spinach, dill, cilantro, and Bibb lettuce — and have used them in such dishes as a chicken pesto panini and spinach artichoke dip. The food is served at the school’s Chateau de Bleu restaurant, which is open to the public.

The terraponic indoor grow system uses trays filled with a special soil mixture that sit in racks filled with water and lit by ultraviolet lights, according to a statement. Students are responsible for planting, watering, and harvesting the crops, as well as incorporating them in the menu, the statement said,


“In the past, we have taken field trips to a local herb farm, Muddy River Herbals, to assist in the planting and harvesting process, but with our own growing system we can now streamline the harvesting process and enhance our farm-to-table efforts,” said Richard Spada, the lead teacher in the culinary arts department, where there are 85 students.

The Rachael Ray Foundation gave grants of about $5,000 each to 27 schools across the country to expand their culinary programs this year. Blue Hills was the only school in Massachusetts to receive a grant, according to the foundation.

The Canton-based campus opened in 1966 and provides academic and vocational training to students from Avon, Braintree, Canton, Dedham, Holbrook, Milton, Norwood, Randolph, and Westwood.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.