Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hydroponics growing at the John L. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford

The Zebra Longwing (Heliconius Charitonius), is Florida's state butterfly. Found throughout the state, the delicate adult butterfly may live for several months. Females deposit small, yellow eggs on young leaves and tendrils of the Purple Passion flower, shown below, growing at the facility. They may produce numerous generations each year. To All Master Gardeners and our special guests, the MG Class of 2009.

Our monthly meeting is Thursday, May 28Th, 10:00 am to 12:00 PM.

We are going on a Road Trip! (One Mile). Meet at the Extension Center by 9:50 AM and we will car pool.

We are going to visit with
Debbie Taylor, Seminole County Detention Deputy at the John L. Polk Correction Facility.

Topics: Hydroponics and new additions at the facility.

This invitation was sent out to announce the monthly meeting of the Seminole County Master Gardeners and included the current class going through this program, my class.........
Hydroponic production uses water solutions to deliver nutrients. Growing vegetables hydroponically in perlite and other inorganic material minimizes pests and diseases that flourish in soil. Indoor production also protects plants from damage from heavy rains and from chilly winters in North Florida.

Hydroponic growing can produce up to 10 times the vegetable yields of field production. The higher yields come about because plants are bunched closer together and are harvested over a longer period of time. I believe that Hydroponic growers can bank on the higher yields off setting the increased costs of building and maintaining greenhouses.
Only Women inmates, never male inmates, at the John L. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford, are currently growing lettuce and various varieties of tomatos hydroponically. The project is considered a work program within the system, saving money on food for inmates.
YOU GO GIRLS!!!!!! I had to say that, and I can since this is my Blog.
Tomato plants are grown at different stages, making available a continuing harvest for use. Above are plant seedlings just several weeks old.

Several varieties of tomatoes, including grape, cherry and a full size tomato are grown in containers in a synthetic, "pellet" type product, while the lettuce is grown in a plastic "basket like" container directly in the channels of water flow. I am intentionally not getting all to specific on how this type of growing is done here, so that I will not incorrectly or unintentionally report information. Do note how these plants are stripped of all the leaves on the lower branches to allow the plant to produce more flowers and therefore more tomatoes. I do believe the photos tell the story, and this special tour through the facility,offered to the Master Gardeners was so interesting and also so very informative . The tomato plants are tied up and suspended from a moving support system that can stretch them out up to 40-50 ft. long. As I understand, this program has been on-going for about 10 years now.
About one year ago the facility started to harvest Talapia. What you are viewing on the net are newly hatched. As they grow they are transferred to slightly larger tanks, some made from cement blocks and others from "septic tanks".
The fish are jumping.....being fed here and if you look closely can see some jumping for the food. This is part of the water circulation system in the tank.
We all recognize the Rubbermaid plastic storage box, with so many uses!
The final Talapia tank before the fish are harvested for eating. We were told that it takes about a year from hatching.... for these fish to reach 1 lb.
I feel so lucky to have been able to personally visit, see and learn about this wonderful program.
In the hot house area, if there was space there was something growing!!!!! The Rosemary plant in the Herb garden was so lush and beautiful, it did not look real......... and the aroma....amazing!
Sun flowers show their faces among the flowers.
Yes indeed, if not for this, it would be so easy to forget we were visiting the Seminole County Prison.
A very special thanks to Debbie Taylor, Seminole County, Florida Detention Deputy at the John L. Polk Correction Facility in Sanford for your hospitality and making this visit possible. Thank You Grad '09 Big Smile


fitncrafty said...

makes me want a big salad RIGHT NOW!! Beautiful gardens...
Looks so interesting!!

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