KIMBALL, W.Va. — Passersby on U.S. 52 in Kimball in McDowell County often stare at some tall white towers beside the Five Loaves and Two Fishes Food Bank.
Sometimes they even stop to take a closer look.
Many are surprised to see plants poking their little heads from slits all around the towers.
But Joel McKinney, who sets up and maintains the towers, is always glad to talk about his work, which is called hydroponic growing.
This is a way to grow vegetables without soil, using water in this case, he said, and it has many advantages.
“The growing time is much shorter,” he said. “From the time I seed (a head of lettuce), it will be ready for harvest in about 35 days.”
Not only is the growing fast, it doesn’t take up as much space because the plants are going up instead of out, with dozens of plants on one tower.
“I can grow 44 heads of lettuce on a tower rather than four on the ground using the same space,” he said. “I am actually a vendor for Mercer County schools…