The Office of Sustainability at the University of South Carolina, The Green Quad Learning Community and Sustainable Carolina are proud to announce the integration of a hydroponics system into their community farm and garden. The commercial grade hydroponics system was completely assembled and operated by students. This past semester Dr. Joe Jones, Faculty Principal of the Green Quad, led students to construct a similar system from repurposed materials. Jory Fleming, a student who worked on the project states, “It was incredible to see how the theories I researched only a month before were being utilized in our system. The kinesthetic learning aspect was something I appreciated, and gave me confidence that I could potentially implement an aquaponics system myself in the future. It was exceedingly rewarding to harvest plants from our system knowing that I was able to contribute to the system that produced it.”
The Office of Sustainability has plans for the system to be the anchor of the commercialization of the Carolina Community Farm and Garden. The farm will produce over a dozen products including sorghum, milkweed, mushrooms, heirloom seeds and over 72 heads of lettuce per week. The farm business is based on permaculture practices and should produce nearly $20,000 in annual revenue making it a profitable and self-sufficient student run business within 12 months.
The diverse and expanding selections of crops were selected for the local environment and market. Students running the project hope the products will be utilized for personal use, educational/research purposes or for select markets such as McKutchen House on campus or local restaurants, breweries or farmers markets. A portion of every crop is committed to support students at the Gamecock Pantry. Students are the primary force behind this effort, leading all planning, planting, harvesting, packaging, marketing and selling of the produce. The Office of Sustainability is excited for future plans to integrate service-learning opportunities, offer use of the system to faculty/classes, and help provide students with knowledge of social and economic dynamics related to food through a hands-on business related experience.
Original content available at http://sc.edu/green/garden.php