Let it grow: Blennerhassett students learn hydroponics
Student Hydroponics Program | Douglass Huxley |
IMAGE: Trenton Welch, left, and Michelle Sampson look over a batch of hydroponically grown lettuce Tuesday as they prepare to sell another batch to Parkersburg South High School, where it will be served in the cafeteria. (Photo by Douglass Huxley)
PARKERSBURG — Lettuce tell you about some Career and Technical Education (CTE) students who have sold hydroponically grown produce to Parkersburg South High School.
Hydroponics is the technique of growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution rather than soil, and students in the Agricultural Science program at the Wood County Technical Center have started their own business based around that principle.
The business is called Blennerhassett Valley Greens where they grow, harvest and sell their own produce.
“We broke it down into three sections,” said Michelle Sampson, explaining their name. “Blennerhassett being our FFA chapter, Valley because we’re in the Mid-Ohio Valley, and Greens because we’re growing greens.”
Sampson said they have done greenhouse sales in the past but this is a new experience for the group.
“This is the first time we’ve ever really marketed hydroponics and did the whole business plan,” Sampson said.
The students not only grow the produce using hydroponics but also build the equipment needed for the process.
“It started with our group, construction maintenance,” student Trenton Welch said. “The hydroponic table was built specifically for the dimensions of our greenhouse.”
Agricultural Science instructor Jeremy Greene said the students began their construction the first week of September and put their first germination in the second week of October.
“We’re currently on an eight-week schedule,” student Remington Blair said. “So, this week we’re supposed to germinate a set of about 200 seeds. And then we’ll transplant them in about a week from now. And we’ll move them to the main table.”
Greene said this will be the first harvest for the students after Christmas break. He said they are also working on getting another grow station up and running.
“Trenton and his crew are putting together and running water lines for a second table in our larger greenhouse,” Greene said. “When we get two tables going that obviously increases our capabilities.”
Greene said the sale of this lettuce, and any future produce the students may grow and sell, will help to not only sustain the greenhouse but assist with other programs within the FFA.
“Running an FFA chapter is extremely expensive; running a greenhouse is extremely expensive,” Greene said. “So, hopefully it helps supplement some of the other stuff.”
All of the students, a group that also includes Skylar Hutchinson and Connor Lafferty, said it was a cool feeling to know something they’ve grown was being served to fellow students.
“As a teenager, I know no one is going to be like, ‘Hey, I’m going to eat that,’” Welch said. “So, hopefully there’s a lot of good feedback.”