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USF St. Petersburg campus receives grant to help bring hydroponic greenhouse project to St. Pete

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Posted at 11:26 PM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 23:26:14-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — An effort to promote food security in South St. Petersburg is getting a boost from a $25,000 grant.

USF’s St. Petersburg campus was awarded the money from the Ford Motor Company Fund for The Fresh and Local Greenhouse Project.

“We hope with this project the community will be able to have a place where they can just easily access fresh farm produce,” said Winnie Mulamba, the school’s sustainability planner.

It will allow community partners to come together to develop a hydroponic growing system, allowing food to grow year-round.

“I hope we will be able to provide food that is needed by the community and we’ll be able to meet their needs in terms of fresh farm produce. I also hope our students will be able to learn from this and be able to apply their skill sets that they learned from school,” said Mulamba.

The greenhouse will be built at the St. Pete Youth Farm. The organization was established as part of the CRA.

The land offers farm, community and hydroponic growing space. It engages teens and students, paying them $12 an hour and teaching civic engagement.

“To get our young people involved in the technology of growing food and farming that’s that’s next level,” said Carla Bristol, the collaboration manager for St. Pete Youth Farm.

Seventy percent of the produce will be sold through a youth-driven social enterprise, and about 30 percent of the food grown will be donated.

“Our anticipation is that with the youth-led opportunity that young people are going to do everything from help to install the greenhouse that will be here, learn about how to grow food hydroponically, continue to learn about civic engagement,” said Bristol.

Bristol said they’ll seek community input on what to grow.

The greenhouse is expected to open this summer.