Gritt's Greenhouse in Putnam County, WV avoided tap water - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Gritt's Greenhouse in Putnam County, WV avoided tap water during crisis

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At Gritt's Greenhouse in Putnam County, WV water is an essential part of business.

They grow hydroponic tomatoes and other produce that is served in schools and sold in area grocery stores.

When crude MCHM contaminated the water supply it created significant challenges for the business.

"They take the water in just by their roots," explained Penny Goff, pointing to lettuce that will soon be shipped to area schools. "Usually it takes about 28 days from the time we transplant it until we harvest it."

Gritt's provides tomatoes and lettuce to schools in nearby communities through the Farm to School program. When the water crisis started school nutrition leaders and parents had some difficult questions.

"They wanted to know if the lettuce was safe and if we were using the water," Goff said.

On March 14, Gritt's will ship the first bunch of lettuce out to schools since the water crisis started. Goff said the lettuce and tomatoes did not come into contact with the contaminated water. She said a 10,000 gallon tank was filled the night before the do not use order was issued. As soon as the order was issued they turned off the main water valve leading to the facility.  

When they ran out of water in the storage tank they got refills from the Putnam Public Service District.

Goff said even after the water was publicly deemed safe by government officials, Gritt's hired someone privately to test the water. She said they found non detectable levels of MCHM.

Gritt's works to stay in compliance with the US Department of Agriculture's Good Agricultural Practices or GAP program. That program has strict criteria to ensure the safe handling of produce. Because of that they had to keep diligent records of their efforts to avoid the water during the do not use order.

They used well water to tend the plants at the facility that are not for human consumption.

Goff said while the water crisis along with higher heating costs created some hardship over the last few months, she believes they are recovering well and getting back on track.