In many ways, the hydroponic system at Goucher College is a microcosm of the Goucher College experience.
An Idea is Born During Study Abroad
During a study abroad trip to Roatan, Honduras in January 2011, three Goucher students (David Ludgin '11, Garrett Bent '12 and Sam Glickstein '12) had the opportunity to tour a local farm. This farm exposed the students to the concept of hydroponic gardening, which is a method of raising plants without the use of soil. Instead of using the soil as a medium to deliver nutrients to the plants, a nutrient-rich water solution provides the plants with all the necessary components for growth. The system itself uses 10-25% less water than traditional farming and it allows for production in both urban and rural settings.
Student-Driven Collaboration Supported Through Internal College Funding
Upon their return from Honduras, the students researched the method, applied for and received a Social Justice Grant from the President's Office, and partnered with the student-run Campus Agricultural Co-op. By the following spring, they had installed a prototype in the Greenhouse located on campus. Since then, students have operated the system and sold the produce (Butterhead lettuce) to the college's dining halls.
Directed Summer Research with Faculty
During the summer of 2013, two students (Joseph Fink '15 and William Daly '16) and a faculty member (Gina Louise Shamshak, Economics/Environmental Studies) expanded the system and conducted an economic assessment of the hydroponic system. The students received funding to conduct this summer research project and the students presented their research at the Fifth Annual Landmark Conference Summer Research Symposium. Click here for more information about the research project.