Sustainability is at the forefront of the FORAM Sustainable Aquaponics Research Center (SARC) on Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong Campus in Savannah, even during a pandemic.
SARC recently donated produce grown at the aquaponics farm on campus to America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia. Donations like this, as well as other community service projects, are a large part of SARC’s mission.
“SARC’s mission has always included community outreach and education, which means knowing how we can support the community when it’s in need,” SARC curator Brigette Brinton said. “Right now we’re just supplying food instead of information.”
Brinton said it’s also important to make sure the food grown at the aquaponics farm isn’t wasted in order to be as sustainable as possible.
“We are donating produce that would otherwise be in excess or go bad before being consumed,” she said. “We had a lot of lettuce ready to plant just after spring break that would normally have gone to the Southern Cafe, but they don’t need it, and the heat is causing it to bolt and wilt quickly. So far, we’ve donated lettuce and kale, and soon it will be lettuce and chard.”
Brinton, two student workers and SARC senior scientist Heather Joesting, Ph.D., have been working at the aquaponics farm during the period of social distancing to make sure the produce growing in the greenhouse remains usable.
In addition to donating produce to Second Harvest, the research center partners with the Nine Line Foundation to help show homeless veterans how to grow their own food. Also, they partner with Savannah State University to help integrate aquaponics into K-12 curriculum.
“In addition to conducting fundamental research on aquaponics, we value the importance of education and outreach to the community,” SARC director Brent Feske, Ph.D., said.