WILBERFORCE — Leveraging its status as an 1890 Land-Grant University, Central State will build two new farm and garden facilities for agricultural research and outreach.
The school made the official announcement and ceremoniously broke ground on the first phase — a state-of-the-art botanical and community garden — Nov. 3. When it’s completed, the 40-acre plot of land across from the main entrance will feature the garden — where CSU faculty, staff, students, the community can grow fruits and vegetables — and the CSU Demonstration and Agricultural Experiment Station, which will include an aquaponics facility.
The $1.525 million project is being paid for with federal money.
“For years we have publicized and we have talked about what (Land-Grant University status) means,” said President Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond. “Being a Land-Grant institution is about the enhancement of the communities we serve. We received the support from the federal government because they believe we can achieve that outreach.”
As a Land-Grant university, CSU’s model of teaching, research, and extension focuses on student development, providing knowledge to farmers and rural communities, and cutting-edge research.
“You can not have a Land-Grant University without experiment stations,” said Dr. Alton B. Johnson, dean of the college of science and engineering and director of Land-Grant programs. “We have a space now where we can do research.”
CSU currently has extension agents in seven Ohio counties including Greene and through its cooperative extension service, CSU is partnering with Cleveland-based Rid-All Green Partnership to tap into that company’s expertise in building and operating the aquaponics facility.
Aquaponics is essentially the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. In normal aquaculture, excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrifying bacteria initially into nitrites and subsequently into nitrates, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients, and the water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.
The goal through that facility is to develop a community-based model that provides education in 4-H and youth development, agricultural and natural resources, community and economic development and family and consumer science.
“The demonstration centers will provide the practical experiences that develop the competencies our graduates need to meet the needs of the State of Ohio and our nation’s work force,” said CSU Provost Dr. Pedro L. Martinez.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.