Modern agriculture accounts for 80% of our country’s water use and is also responsible for water pollution via runoff containing pesticides, herbicides, as well as a large carbon footprint. In light of these adverse traits, some people have begun investigating alternative, more sustainable forms of agriculture. One such form is hydroponics- the growing of plants without soil. Plants are grown in water, treated with nutrients, and exposed to grow lights. Water is recirculated throughout the system, resulting in a smaller water footprint than conventional agriculture. Furthermore, there is no need to use pesticides or fertilizers because the plants are grown indoors and are separated from some of the compromising conditions present on conventional farms.
For the past few years, Terraces Dining Hall has teamed up with the Aquaponics/Hydroponics Research Team at Ithaca College to support a hydroponics system of our own - how much more local can we get! The dining hall staff perform multiple small harvests each week, bringing home-grown herb goodness to some of your favorite Sodexo dishes.
What do we grow?
- Dill- used with Friday night fish dishes
- Sage- used with Turkey dishes at Simple Servings
- Thai Basil- used in stir fry recipes and other Asian cuisine
- Sweet Basil- used as a pizza topping
- Cilantro- used in Southwestern-inspired dishes
- Curly Parsley- various dishes
Last year the system struggled with its productivity.
However, this year, thanks to the attention and efforts of student researcher
Jen Skala and the Sodexo staff, the system has been thriving! Last year’s grow
lights were replaced with brand new ones, and chemical tests and other
maintenance tasks are performed on the system more frequently in order to
better monitor the plants’ environment. So far, this year’s hydroponics plants
are in high demand, so keep an eye out for hydroponic herbs in your next
Terrace Dining Hall meal!