I woke up on this Buffalo morning back to the usual weather in the 30s. What had seemed like a week of sunshine headed towards warm weather turned around quickly. This Saturday morning instead of sleeping deep into the afternoon hours like a usual college student, I participated in Community Day with my roommate. We were going to the Community Action Organization’s Urban Farm in the city with her professor and some classmates from her Environmental Studies class. Despite the cold trek over to the site, little did I know my heart would be warmed with helping out the environment in my own way.
The Community Action Organization is doing great things. One of their newest projects is growing lettuce hydroponically. The organization has a prototype in one of its greenhouses to test out this new environmentally friendly way of growing lettuce organically. Now you may be saying to yourself what is hydroponics? I found out that hydroponics is the process of growing plants without water. The plants are suspended in a balanced ph nutrient solution in water and uptake their nutrients. There is also a liquid fertilizer in the water and hydrogen peroxide is poured in every two weeks to take care of the algae. The organization said that it gets about 50 heads of lettuce a day out this system. I got to help out by participating in the process of preparing the lettuce to be packaged and refrigerated. No chemicals were used except a little bleach in the water when cleaning the leaves before being dried and packaged, but other than that it was all naturally grown. The organization sells a pound of lettuce to the community for about two to three dollars and to local restaurants for about five to six dollars. One of the newest projects it is working on is selling the lettuce to local restaurants to use and earn money to create a salad bar for underprivileged school children in the city for twenty cents. It is a great thing when the community works together to use its resources.
I then got to go into one of the green houses to learn how to plan some Black Krim tomato seeds. The process was pretty simple in just sticking one seed and covering it with soil per section in the container. The tomatoes germination is expected to be 69 days after continuous sunlight and water. The greenhouses were beautiful and even on a cold day each was reaching temperatures that were in the 70s to keep the plants warm. One of the staff members told the students that even on a cold winter day early in the year it is nice to come out into the green houses to get some warmth. The organization is working on grant writing to get more infrastructure because as the demand for lettuce for this project increases, extra space is limited. The organization workers welcomed all of the students to come back because they are understaffed and can use all of the help they can get.
I had so much fun this afternoon and learned a lot about the great things happening in my own community. The group of about twelve students was able to accomplish a lot in the two hours of being there. After all, “many hands make light work.” When I arrived back at the dorms, I felt like I did something good for the community and environment even if it was only packaging lettuce and planting seeds. Everyone has the opportunity to go out into the community and give of their time in some way. It is wonderful to see what good things are happening in our own back yard. Especially now that it is spring, there is a lot people can do outside to replenish the environment. Whether it is gardening, planting flowers or trees, or even cleaning up the litter you see outside. No matter what it is you will feel good, I promise. I plan on going back there during my free time to lend a helping hand with this great project. As the afternoon went on and the sun came out to brighten up the temperature, although it did not look like spring outside, it sure felt like nature’s beauty was on its way.