Young Student’s Passion for Natural Produce

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. -- There are two greenhouses at Blue Mountain High School near Orwigsburg that have been out of commission for years. But leave it up to 15-year-old, Hannah Burke to change that.

"It started because my Dad has Parkinson's disease, so I wanted him to eat healthier and I like to be outdoors in the summer. I don't like to be cooped up in the house," said Burke.

Fueled by her father's diagnosis and her mother's upbringing on a farm in North Dakota, Burke is environmentally conscious to the core and loves farming, gardening and studying eco-friendly trends. That brings us to her new proposed project.

"I'm trying to either put a greenhouse or a grow pod, which a grow pod is a shipping container that uses hydroponic growing with vertical growing, so it reduces your watering by 95% versus the conventional way of growing things," said Burke.

A grow pod uses cross-pollination so there's no risk of bugs or insects affecting the plants. It's a chemical free way to grow natural, clean produce without having to even use soil. Grow pods can produce up to 500 heads of lettuce a week. Burke says she'd like to use some of the produce grown here to donate to local food banks.

"It's a new, 21st century way of growing food and we'll be like the only people in the area using it, so we'll have an advantage."

At just 15 years old, Hannah already has her own natural produce LLC business called Best Buds. She grows tomatoes, lettuce, kale, beans and peas right from her home here in Orwigsburg, then sells her products online or at local farmers markets.

"My husband has Parkinson's and I swear to God it's from ground up and chemicals and not eating healthy, So we thought we'd try the healthy way, grow our own stuff and know where it's coming up," said Amy Burke, Hannah's mom.

Burke met with officials Thursday to discuss a budget for the project.

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