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Here are a few of the variety of lettuce plants Mike Elwick grows in hydroponic trays.

While most of his neighbors trudged to work in the cold and snow all winter, Mike Elwick spent his working days surrounded by growing plants and an office kept at 70 degrees without a single heater.

And he did that without leaving town.

Those were among the benefits of Elwick's first winter of running an indoor hydroponics garden at The Old School Produce.

Elwick and his assistant Stephen Kalina spent the winter growing lettuce and tomatoes and other vegetables in one of the former West elementary classrooms. In one part of the room, tomatoes and cucumbers are growing on vines tied to the special sunlight-imitating lights that also provide enough heat for the plants and the people throughout the winter.

Behind a thick sheet of plastic -- set up because lettuce grows better in cooler temperatures -- hundreds of lettuce plants of several varieties, along with a few specialty items, grow in rows in metal trays connected to a watering system.

The cucumbers and tomatoes are ready; Elwick's wife, Cindy, sells them as fast as they can ripen at Nature's Corner. The lettuce plants will be ready soon. Elwick and Kalina place them in groups in the trays and then move them to larger trays as they grow.

See an earlier Vinton Today story about Elwick and how he uses modern technology in his outdoor garden HERE.

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