Students To Start Hydroponic Gardening

Joshua Malin, Hi-Gusher Staff

Hydroponics is a type of horticulture that involves growing plants without soil. Susan Johnson, a teacher of both Engineering classes and Biotechnology wants to teach students how to grow their own crops. Johnson’s co-worker, Stacy Allen, approached her with the idea of hydroponic gardening after noticing the food insecurity of students in Arkansas, both before and after the pandemic hit. Johnson agreed to take matters to her engineering and biotechnology students and wants to teach them how to build hydroponics systems and how to grow different types of plants without soil.

In order to purchase the materials needed to build the hydroponics systems, Johnson, along with Sarah Hawkins and Anna Reynolds wrote a $5000 grant to the El Dorado Education Foundation and received the full amount. The grant will allow students to travel to SAU’s hydroponics greenhouse and UAPB’s fisheries, and pay for supplies like PVC pipes, paint, chains, water pumps, and tubing. Ms. Reynolds’ students will be using the products from the hydroponics system for their cooking class, and Mrs. Hawkins will grow plants as part of the agricultural curriculum.

The building process is projected to happen between December and February, and hopefully, the plants will begin the process of germination between those times. Along with the construction of the hydroponics systems, biotechnology students will be conducting experiments on plants. The grant is scheduled to end along with the school year, yet the systems will continue to be used throughout future years.