Hydroponics Ideal Teaching Tool for STEM Learning, says Georgia Middle School

Pine Grove Middle School in Georgia has a robust agriculture program—now, hydroponics will be part of the mix. (photo courtesy Zach Hurley/Pine Grove Middle School)

Pine Grove Middle School in Georgia has a robust agriculture program—now, hydroponics will be part of the mix. (photo courtesy Zach Hurley/Pine Grove Middle School)

Indoor growing and hydroponic agriculture is not just for adults. So says Pine Grove Middle School in Valdosta, Georgia, which began construction on a new hydroponics learning laboratory for its students this past march.

One of the primary reasons for the new facility is the school’s desire to become STEM-certified.

STEM-certified schools are recognized by the Georgia Department of Education as offering top-level education in science, technology, engineering and math. Because hands-on learning is seen as vital for this type of education, Pine Grove Middle School decided that hydroponics is an ideal teaching tool.

The school is funding the hydroponics learning laboratory with a $700,000 ‘Boosting Learning Through Authentic STEM Learning’ grant that was awarded by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement Georgia Innovation Fund. Read more

Road Sign Touting ‘Hydroponic Tomatoes’ Spurs South Carolinian’s Foray into Indoor Growing

A beginning and end of season view of Hurricane Creek Farms' hydroponic tomatoe greenhouse. Photos courtesy of Jesse Adkins and Hurricane Creek Farms.

A before and end of season view of Hurricane Creek Farms hydroponic tomato greenhouse. Photo courtesy of Jesse Adkins and Hurricane Creek Farms.

Jesse Adkins was working a landscape design and installation job in Pelzer, South Carolina when he saw a sign by the side of the road that read, “Hydroponic Tomatoes.” His curiosity piqued, Adkins sought out the grower, Paul Lee. Lee entertained questions about his operation and hydroponic growing that provided Adkins, a 35 year landscape design and nursery industry veteran, with the impetus to take on a new career challenge.

“It seemed to be a profitable way to grow and offered a way to use marginal land to grow a large amount of clean, healthy produce on a small footprint,” Adkins says.

Under Lee’s tutelage and after taking a short course in hydroponic growing from Mississippi State University, his confidence grew. When Lee retired, Adkins took the plunge and bought his greenhouse and growing equipment. He also procured a USDA loan to buy a second, larger greenhouse to accompany the one built by Lee, and by 2006 his fledgling hydroponic venture Hurricane Creek Farms was up and running. Read more

Former Mushroom Farmer Transforms Unoccupied Greenhouses into Booming Hydroponic Lettuce Business 

Photo Courtesy of Maple Lane Farms 2

Photo Courtesy of Maple Lane Farms 2

When the mushroom company he was growing for closed down its operation, Allyn Brown, who has been farming for nearly 40 years, wanted to find something similar to mushrooms that would provide him with year-round cash flow.

That’s when Brown decided to grow hydroponic lettuce. But he knew he had to learn how to run a hydroponic operation from an expert to become successful. So, he spent some time at Cornell learning from Lou Albright, a well-known hydroponic guru.

“I did a short course in hydroponics and started to convert my facility over to lettuce,” Brown says. “That got successful and within one year, it doubled in size.” He christened the operation, Maple Lanes Farms 2.

To meet demand, Brown immediately started looking for another greenhouse space. Read more

Hydroponic Farm Preserves Family History, Supports Community with ‘Eat Well, Do Good’ Philosophy

Image courtesy of Snuck Farm.

Image courtesy of Snuck Farm.

The land used for Snuck Farm has been in Page Westover’s family for more than 100 years; her family helped to settle the idyllic town of Pleasant Grove, Utah, where it is located. Westover says the idea to use the remaining land (much of it has been sold or parceled off over the decades) for sustainable farming came out of a desire to preserve a piece of history while serving their community.

“My dad grew up on this property. We decided that we would revitalize it and preserve a piece of our family history,” says Westover. “We wanted to preserve the pasture, and we wanted to maintain the animals that have been there.”

The farm, which has been in operation for about one year, offers leafy green vegetables grown using hydroponics. Their greenhouse is currently growing different kinds of kale, lettuce, and other salad greens, in addition to chard, basil, and many other herbs.  

Westover says the farm is also in the process of developing an outdoor farmyard where they will grow fruits and other vegetables to round out their selection. Read more

A 2-acre Farm in a Box: Kits Deliver Off-grid Farming Components in Shipping Containers

Netafim’s Typhoon thinwall dripline in the field. Courtesy Netafim.

Netafim’s Typhoon thinwall dripline in the field. Courtesy Netafim.

San Francisco-based Farm From a Box supplies all the components needed to create a two-acre off-grid farm,  packed in a shipping container that will then serve as a farm building. It recently announced a new partnership with Netafim, an Israel-based irrigation firm with offices in 120 countries, to supply the irrigation components. 

Farm From a Box is the brainchild of partners Scott Thompson and Brandi DiCarli. Their kits include renewable power systems, internet connectivity, basic farm tools, micro-drip irrigation systems and water pumps that can be adapted to fit either a ground well or municipal water supply. 
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Economic Sustainability of Large-scale Aquaponics Subject of University Research

Maize High School in suburban Wichita, Kansas features an extensive hydroponics program. (photo courtesy of Jay Super/Maize High School)

Maize High School in suburban Wichita, Kansas features an extensive hydroponics program. (Photo courtesy of Jay Super/Maize High School)

Two years ago Claude Galipeault approached Georgia’s Armstrong State University Biology Department head Matthew Draud with a novel research idea: testing the economic sustainability of aquaponics.

Draud’s curiosity was piqued and he decided to visit Galipeault to check out his aquaponic system, which he had constructed in his basement.

“I quickly identified with his mission – it was focused on inventing technologies to make aquaponic systems more economically sustainable,” Draud says. “Since that meeting, I brought the idea of a collaboration to university officials, who were supportive assuming I could find the funding. I discovered that The Forum Group Charitable Foundation had funds dedicated to research into the profitability of aquaponics systems and eventually secured a $100,000 donation to support our project.” Read more

New York City’s Edenworks Advances Urban Aquaponics with Custom Ecosystems

Edenworks Farmstacks are customized for the crop they support. (photo courtesy of Jason Green/Edenworks)

Edenworks Farmstacks are customized for the crop they support. (photo courtesy of Jason Green/Edenworks)

New York City resident Jason Green wanted good local produce available in his city on a year-round basis. Concluding that other New Yorkers wanted the same thing, he addressed this insufficiency with aquaponics.

Desiring a more intimate relationship with food, Green was already gardening in his apartment window box. But in order to grow local produce year-round in New York City, he knew that a new sort of infrastructure was needed.

So Green, along with co-founders Ben Silverman and Matt La Rosa, founded Edenworks, which utilizes vertically-terraced, closed loop, modular aquaponic ecosystems. Read more

Toronto Aquaponics Startup Works Toward a ‘New Normal’ in Local Food Production

Photo courtesy of Aqua Greens.

Photo courtesy of Aqua Greens.

Pablo Alvarez and Craig Petten are Toronto natives with a combined 40 years of experience in the food industry. By starting  a new aquaponic farm in their home city, the co-founders hope to both increase Toronto’s food stability and increase people’s connection with their food.

Alvarez and Petten first discovered aquaponics during their time at Humber College, where they majored in Sustainable Energy and Building Technology. After 20 years working in the hospitality industry in Toronto, the pair founded Aqua Greens. As Petten explains, their work in hospitality allowed them to see first hand the lack of connection between food and its source. Read more