You may want to take another look at the basil that’s seasoning your food at Southside Café. There’s more to it than meets the eye!
In the spirit of Washington State University’s commitment to agricultural research and education, Dining Services has partnered with the Eggert Family Organic Farm to introduce hydroponic basil at Southside Café.
This project was developed by WSU alumnus Paul Schumacher, who wanted to leave behind a gift for students who are interested in hydroponics and sustainable farming.
Schumacher designed and built a custom vertical hydroponic system at Eggert Family Organic Farm. The hydroponic system now satisfies 100 percent of Southside Café’s basil needs (around 1.5 lbs per week).
This project is made possible by the Cougar Green Fund. Click here to learn more about the Cougar Green Fund.
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants that only uses water, nutrients, and a growing medium. No soil is involved.
The purpose of hydroponics is to remove as many barriers as possible between a plant’s roots and the nutrients it needs.
Some benefits of this growing method include:
- More control over growing conditions
- Increased plant growth rate
- More efficient water use
- Higher crop yield
Through hydroponics, farmers can also convert typically inhospitable spaces into areas where crops can be grown. For these reasons, hydroponics may have a major role to play in the future of sustainable farming.
How does the system work?
The hydroponics system at the Eggert Family Farm uses the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) to simultaneously support 120 basil plants.
Plants are placed in channels that allow a nutrient solution to flow over their roots. After passing through the channel, the solution falls into a reservoir and is pumped to the beginning of the system.
NFT is well-suited to growing lettuce, herbs, and other leafy greens.