SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Students in Nixa will soon have more room to grow fresh food on school grounds.

It’s possible due to the USDA’s Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Grant will result in $300,000 being awarded to the school.

The current greenhouse with tower gardens is located at the John Thomas School of Discovery.

Through the money, the expansion will take place with the construction of a larger greenhouse and additional tower gardens.

“We’re going to change our capacity from 11 towers up to 125 towers,” said Dr. Nicole McCauley with the McCauley Foundation. “Down here at the base it holds 20 gallons of water. That water then comes up through the center of this tube, all the way up to the top. That water with minerals rains down over the root systems of the plants.”

McCauley said the greenhouse will have very tall walls and it will allow for growth year-round. School staff members explained the alternative way to grow with the tower gardens is a great learning experience.

“If students know where their food comes from and can understand that process, they’re going to eat healthier. It just has a great positive impact on their life.”

The expansion of the greenhouse will allow more food to be produced and taken to the cafeteria. It can also benefit students who need to take extra food home.

“We get food that gets to go home,” said JTSD Principal Dr. Jennifer Chastain. “Sometimes it’s not always fresh and high quality. This would be a great opportunity to have great nutritional food sent home with our students.”

Food will also keep supporting members of the community with year-round donations to Least of These Food Pantry.

“Not only do we get to feed and bless the students here at our school, but we’re able to feed and bless those who live in our community,” said Joe Shaughnessy, who teaches in Nixa.

The expanded greenhouse will help create internships for Missouri State University students to work with the gardens.

The district is still raising more funds to complete the project, but this is the largest grant received for this project and will be a great step in expanding the program.

The construction of the larger greenhouse will take place later this school year.