By April SorrowUniversity of GeorgiaNestled between buildings — and currently hidden behind a construction zone — a garden grows. The University of Georgia Trial Gardens is where plants from all over the world are tested. Now grown in a sustainable way, the garden has little impact on the environment but a huge one on the people who visit it. “Everybody looks at this garden to demonstrate new ways to do things,” said Camille Evans, a UGA student and the garden’s sustainability co-director. “By taking steps toward sustainability, hopefully we can help them take steps in the right direction at their home and business. If they can see that it works here, they can see it will work other places, too.” Allan Armitage, a horticulture professor with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, started the garden in 1982. It has grown into a place where plant breeders from around the world want to test their plants’ ability to grow in heat and humidity. Three years ago, a decision was made to make the gardens sustainable. The garden is reducing its environmental impact through minimizing water use, maximizing soil nutrients, reducing the use of plastics and letting nature work. “We always were pretty careful, which made it easier for us,” Armitage said. “We used to use a lot of plastic; we use hardly any now. We used to use inorganic fertilizers; everything is organic now. Although we never used sprays indiscriminately, we have minimized to almost nothing today. But we do spray if we have an infestation of a certain insect that we can’t get rid of organically. We do have to apply chemicals. We simply do everything better, but we are not perfect.” Installing a drip irrigation system reduced water use at the garden 80 percent. Winter cover crops increase soil minerals. Plastic pots have been replaced with biodegradable paper cylinders full of soil. Utilizing sustainable products, like Ellepots, the garden has increased efficiency. The “pick up and plant” technique used with the paper pots cuts planting time. And the pot’s design helps the plant grow better and faster. The garden looks to start trends in the horticulture industry, Evans said. “Everyone has a different definition of sustainability,” Evans said. “We take steps to be innovative and environmentally conscience in what we do. We may be doing some things that some people may not consider sustainable. So, you do what you can and maybe next year you do it better. If everyone did that, we’d all be in a better position.” The garden receives most of its sustainable inputs from Ball Horticulture Company free of charge. Leaders in the industry, Ball provides the trial garden with Ellepots and Daniels fertilizers. Armitage wanted to be the first sustainable trial garden in the U.S., said Janet Curry, Ball sales representative. And she wanted to help him.“We wanted to reach the students who will be in our industry. If we can help them learn how to be sustainable, it will be to everyone’s benefit,” Curry said. As a teaching facility, the garden exposes students to various annual and perennial species and allows them to study the different growth habits, tolerances and uses. “This is a true research laboratory. We look at unknown plant material, evaluate them, generate data and dispense it to those who are interested,” Armitage said. “The other great thing about this garden is its use as a classroom. The students are exposed to the plants right next door. I don’t know any other university that has a facility as diverse as this that is so easy for the students to walk to. Also, for the general public and people on campus it is a beautiful place to visit, eat their lunch and relax. After all, where is it written that research cannot be beautiful?” To view the results of the trials, visit ugatrial.hort.uga.edu/.(April Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
Officials in Virginia are reporting that at least three people have overdosed due to the new disturbing trend of using wasp spray as a method to get high.Though it is unclear when the trend exactly started, authorities are expressing concerns after not only seeing it on the streets but also due to reports of stores selling cans of the chemical mixture at elevated rates.“We’re seeing this here on the streets in Boone County,” Sgt. Charles Sutphin said. “People are making a synthetic type methamphetamine out of wasp spray.”Officials say that it sometimes takes one, sometimes three hits of the stray for the body to develop an allergic and potentially fatal reaction to the chemicals.“It’s a cheap fix, and you don’t know what their overall result of their usage of this is going to be”Sutphin said.While the trend continues to grow in the county officials also reported that they do not have an exact fix to reverse the effects of the chemical compound.State Police in Boone County are now working with medical and poison control centers to determine the best possible treatment for those who ingest the chemical mixture.Once a solution is made, officials plan to distribute the antidote to authorities to potentially save the life of others just incase the trend continues to spread.
Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, is calling on Community Colleges to be more assertive, and to rescue the high percentage of the Jamaican workforce that has no certification. He added that many of the difficulties and challenges faced by community colleges result from inadequate literacy and numeracy among the applicants for entry into those institutions, and as such a lot of remedial work has to be done by them. “Yours is the entry point which alone can rescue that 70 per cent of the Jamaican workforce which has no certification, and therefore start and continue at a disadvantage,” the Minister said. Rev. Thwaites was addressing the opening of the 17th annual conference of the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica, at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Hotel, in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on January 9. It is being held under the theme: ‘Shaping the Future: Changing roles for Community Colleges’. The Minister argued that it is through the system of community colleges that most young people from the masses of Jamaica have the opportunity for tertiary education, and that this underscores the epic significance and responsibility that the community colleges have in the education sector. “This movement (community colleges) is no longer the cinderella of the tertiary education system,” Rev. Thwaites emphasized. The Minister said that technical and vocational competencies are no longer second rate to academic subjects, adding that as a nation, “we will never be competitive in our economy or within the global economy, unless the balance between academic competencies and technical and vocational skills is duly recognized.” He cited the network of community colleges as the main purveyor of technical and vocational skills in Jamaica. “It is for everyone in Jamaica to share the objectives and aspirations of your movement, to shape the future, even as we change to meet the exigencies of the 21st Century,” the Minister told the audience.