Hydroponics brings gardening to the classroom – Sioux Falls Argus Leader

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A $5,000 grant allowed an Oscar Howe teacher to build a hydroponics system.

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Linda Pinz-Valdez wants all of her fifth-grade students to end the coming year with a salad.

They just need to grow the vegetables first.

Pinz-Valdez, a teacher at Oscar Howe Elementary in Sioux Falls, will have a hydroponics system installed in her classroom, thanks to a $5,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant. The 8-foot structure allows plants to grow without soil.

“The purpose for this is so students can understand that plants get so much more of what they need from the air and the sun than from the dirt,” Pinz-Valdez said.

Her inspiration for the project came from a student, who in a final report this spring explained that “some” plants can grow without soil. The report followed an experiment in which students grew a lima bean plant in a cup of water.

Pinz-Valdez didn’t want her students to think that just the “weird” plant can grow without nutrients. She wanted the experiment to resonate closer to home.

“I wanted that demonstration that many different plants can grow that way (without soil),” Pinz-Valdez said, adding that she wants students to see plants they recognize and eat grow through hydroponics.


New pot law brings many changes for hydroponics store – Pamplin Media Group

Legalizing marijuana at the state level has meant a lot of new business opportunities for those wanting to get into the business of growing, processing or selling pot. In Newberg there are two operational medical marijuana dispensaries, which have already paid taxes generating revenue for the city.

Yet relaxing marijuana laws has had effects that extend into other industries as well.GARY ALLEN - Since it has become legal to grow recreational marijuana in Oregon, Urban City Hydroponics proprietor Heather Butterworth has seen an unexpected increase in business from non-cannabis growing customers, and chalks it up to her store no longer having the stigma of being a ‘pot shop.'

For Urban City Hydroponics in Newberg, the state’s legalization of pot has had a somewhat ironic impact on the business’s customer base.

“Most of the customers I deal with, obviously, are growing cannabis,” business owner Heather Butterworth said. It’s that way at most hydroponics stores, she said, and always has been.

But a surprising side effect of the passage of Measure 91 and subsequent easing of marijuana laws, has been a reduction in the stigma associated with the hydroponics business.

“Since the new law took effect, people aren’t afraid to come in here anymore,” Butterworth said.

Before last summer, when it became legal to grow up to four marijuana plants for recreational use without a license, customers growing pot would often refer to the “tomatoes” they were growing hydroponically, just like customers at pipe shops would search for the right glass to smoke “tobacco” out of.

Since legalization, though, Butterworth said more people are honestly growing a variety of non-cannabis plants.

“I have people come in, truly growing vegetables in their greenhouses and gardens and things like that,” Butterworth said. “They never came in the store, because they were afraid their neighbors were going to see their car in the parking lot. We were called the ‘pot store.’”

So while the corner of the store sells “Bud Candy” and other additives particularly aimed toward hydroponic cannabis – which is clear by their colorful and artistic labeling – more customers are now learning about the range of crops that can be grown soil-free.

Hydroponics is, essentially, gardening without soil, and almost anything can be grown hydroponically.

“All you do is feed the nutrients straight to the plant,” Butterworth said. “What happens is, you’re giving the plant exactly what it needs, when it needs, as it needs it, so you end up with a lot less waste and you use much less water.”

Still, there is a lot of gear involved, and getting outfitted with a quality hydroponics system can run an initial cost of about $1,000, Butterworth said.

Urban City Hydroponics has been around for six years, has had several owners and has moved a few times. In recent months, though, business is better than it’s ever been.

And growing the customer base to reach a wider range of people has been one of the best things about pot legalization for Butterworth.

“For me, I want to touch everybody, I want them to see the amazing things you can do especially with hydroponics,” she said. “You can grow all the food that you need, as you need it and when you need it. It’s amazing.”

For more information, visit http://www.urbancityhydroponics. com.

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