BELOIT—Right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Beloit School District installed hydroponic gardens that the district’s director of food and nutrition Dawn Smith had learned about at a conference and thought would be a hit at the Beloit schools.

She was introduced to Fork Farms of Appleton, who manufacturers the gardens and supplied her with the equipment for the gardens. The hydroponic gardens rely on water and nutrients to grow food. During the pandemic, students were able to pick up meals from the schools that included lettuce from the hydroponic gardens.