In November, Gilead Christian FFA members submitted a letter of intent to participate in the program, Helping Communities Grow, sponsored by Nutrients for Life. Officials at Nutrients for Life annually offer schools the opportunity to participate in projects that spread the word in their communities about essential nutrients needed for plant growth. Their goal is to raise awareness that population growth needs to be met with a dynamic agricultural industry.
Many generations of Americans are removed from the farm and may not know what is essential for raising the food on their table. Food in the United States is plentiful and reasonably priced, hearty and nutritious. But consumers may not know what it took to get it their local markets.
Consumers need to know where their food dollar can be invested to provide the very best nutrition for their families. There is a lot of consumer buying power. More and more consumers are interested where their food comes from. There is an increasing market for locally grown produce. Local farmers know that locally grown means longer lasting quality and more are stepping up to these production demands.
Making land available for farming is a challenge. The demands of urban growth, recreation facilities and wildlife habitat must be considered as well. Difficult decisions lie ahead how best to utilize the land we have and to protect its value. Conscientious farmers will provide for human needs yet protect the environment.
Policies must be set that protect the environment yet provide food for the world. Today’s youth in agriculture science need to recognize the economic, social and environmental consequences of the options they will have as adults. The more knowledge they have about what is essential for plant growth and the needs of the growing population, the more they will be able to make wise decisions for their and future generations.
In January, Gilead Christian FFA passed step two of their program. With the support of library staff at Mount Gilead and Cardington Libraries, FFA members have set up two hydroponics displays. These displays feature hydroponically grown lettuce in tubs of water—one with and the other without plant food. Agriculture students set these displays in place just prior to the beginning of National FFA week, which commenced February 15. Ag students also enlisted the assistance of staff at the Morrow County Office of the OSU Extension to provide information on hydroponics for those in the general public that would like to try this process in their own homes. Extension handouts are available at the libraries.
We hope you enjoy the progress of our plantings. You are welcome to make comments on a log at each site. We encourage you to comment as often as you choose. Watch our lettuce grow!
Library displays will continue into April.
Local Classroom Feature
Back in the Gilead ag classroom lab, students are busy setting up an aquaponics display. Aquaponics is a medium to raise two crops. Plants growing in float trays use the nutrients from aquatic life in the tank below. Valuable assistance and some equipment has been provided through the generosity of inmates at Marion Correctional Institute. Tilapia was added to our aquaponics unit March 4. Students are learning about balancing the nitrogen cycle that provides for both a safe environment for fish and the growth of plants.
Morrow County Farmers Share Breakfast, March 22
Gilead FFA will also have a display at the Morrow County Farm Bureau’s Farmers Share Breakfast on March 22 at Cardington High School. In video format those attending will be able to view phases of our hydroponics/aquaponics program.
If you have questions about these formats for growing, please contact the officers or advisor of Gilead Christian FFA through the school.
Pictures taken March 14, 2014 to show progress
Water only Comparison
Water and Fertilizer