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Diamond Hill Aquaponics Project

Melissa Billey, Project Manager – melissa.a.billey@gmail.com

May 9, 2018

ABBEVILLE — Mrs. Busby’s class at Diamond Hill Elementary School is getting a hands-on experience with an aquaponics project.  The aquaponics equipment was delivered to Mrs. Busby’s class in February 2018.  The lesson, grow plants in water, with nutrients coming from the fish living in the water, from which clean water is returned to the fish because the plants filtered it.  Sound like a cycle, well it is.  A wonderful cycle that these children are very excited about. 

On April 23 2018, as Jenny Mountford, Abbeville County 4-H Agent, and myself entered Mrs. Busby’s class, the first thing I noticed was the teaching style Mrs. Busby has…traditional and hands-on.  In the back corner of the room, sits the aquaponics unit, a system that is doing so much more than just sustaining fish and growing lettuce.  This aquaponics system is teaching these children about plant and animal life, life cycles, sustainability, environmental changes affecting plants and animals, biology, and so much more.  As I listened in during her lesson, I was amazed at the amount of information these students have not only learned, but retained.  They answered every question that Mrs. Busby and Jenny Mountford asked.  They talked about xylem, transpiration, carnivorous plants, evaporation, nitrogen levels; and the conversation continued about how the fish were helping the plants, and the plants were helping the fish.  Did you know fish can drown?  Mrs. Busby’s class does.  They even know how to keep it from happening by making sure there is enough oxygen in the water and how to provide it.  Currently, the class is growing lettuce; however, they are not limited to this plant only.  The class is getting ready to change out the lettuce to a different plant.  In an aquaponics farm, you get to harvest both the plants and the fish for consumption.  These children may or may not realize it right now, but they are not only learning science, they are learning agriculture also.  The students were able to taste the “fruits of their labor” or should I say vegetables.  They said the lettuce tasted good.  One student comically piped up that he prefers ranch on his lettuce; I believe I would tend to agree with that student.  However, in all seriousness, an entire salad could be grown from aquaponics and the fish harvested for the main course.

A joint effort between Clemson University, Freshwater Coast Community Foundation, and the Abbeville County 4-H has brought this opportunity to Mrs. Busby’s class.  The aquaponics equipment was provided by the Freshwater Coast Community Foundation.  Clemson University has provided the support for the project.  The Abbeville County 4-H program reached out to Diamond Hill Elementary to connect with Emily Busby as a teacher.  This partnership has allowed for the traditional classroom education to meet with the 4-H hands-on education to give new opportunities to our Abbeville County youth.  Dr. Lance Beecher, Aquaponics, Aquaculture and Fisheries Specialist, Clemson Cooperative Extension Service, has been instrumental in helping to get the unit set up and providing help as needed for Mrs. Busby’s class.  While there are many high schools around the state that have aquaponics systems, very few middle schools or elementary schools, if any, have that system.  This is a very unique opportunity for this 6th grade class.  Dr. Beecher is more than happy to assist any school out there to get a program together and offer advice on system design.  Another aquaponics unit is being utilized by an organization in Abbeville County, the Due West Robotics First Lego League Team, Narwhal of Ideas.  This unit is housed at Erskine College and is maintained by the robotics team.  The team is still excited over the lettuce they grew.  These are projects that Mrs. Busby’s class and the Narwhal of Ideas robotics team will never forget.  These hands-on learning experiences are totally educational, totally interesting, and totally fun; and that is what makes for a great education and learning experience.

 

Mrs. Busby’s 6th grade class adding plants to the aquaponics system, May 4, 2018.

FCCF Abbeville Promise Capital Campaign Kick-off Event

Melissa Billey, Project Manager – melissa.a.billey@gmail.com

April 19, 2018

ABBEVILLE — The Freshwater Coast Community Foundation (FCCF) held a kick-off event for the Abbeville Promise Capital Campaign on April 19, 2018, at the Piedmont Technical College (PTC) Abbeville Campus, 143 SC-72, Abbeville, SC 29620.  A welcome was given by Brad Evans, Chairman of the FCCF.  The ceremony was opened in prayer by Rev. Josh Chiles.

The Abbeville Promise was introduced to the guests as a “promise.”  It is a promise for the future, a promise to give assistance to empower our youth to further their education, a promise to these children’s parents for their children’s future and their own future.  Jeff Wilson said it well when he said, “When we invest in programs and projects, we invest in not only our children but also ourselves.”  By investing in the Abbeville Promise, we are investing in ourselves, our children, and our future.  The Abbeville Promise is an “investment in the future of our community,” Jeff explained, it provides for “bright and prosperous futures for our children.”  Jeff Wilson is a Co-Chairman for the Abbeville Promise along with Andy Timmerman.  Stephen Taylor made a good point when he said, “The Abbeville Promise gives us a very important tool.”  Tools are used to do work; they are used to make our work easier; the Abbeville Promise will make the “work” of getting a higher education “easier” for the students of Abbeville County by making it more accessible.  The Abbeville Promise is a scholarship that will allow students in Abbeville County attending Piedmont Technical College the financial assistance to be able to earn a two-year degree without cost to them.  This opens so many doors for students who would not have been able to attend college due to financial constraints, but wanted to go to college.

Leomont Evans, an Abbeville native, who graduated Abbeville High School, was the keynote speaker.  Leomont went to Clemson University with a football scholarship and went on to play in the NFL for the Washington Redskins from 1996 until 1999.  He spoke about the importance of a higher education and doing great things.  Leomont said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”  This “promise” will allow these students to be whatever they want to be.

To date, the Abbeville Promise campaign has received $713,500 in pledges toward the goal of $1.2 million.  This is a great milestone toward the necessary campaign total needed to award the scholarships.

At the conclusion of the program, guests were given a tour of the new Mechatronics Lab at the Piedmont Technical College Abbeville Campus.  Refreshments were provided and served by the Piedmont Technical College Culinary Arts students.

FCCF Abbeville Promise Capital Campaign Kick-off, Piedmont Technical College Abbeville Campus, April 19, 2018.

Growers Alliance Meeting

Sally Caldwell, Communications Coordinator

July 29, 2015

ABBEVILLE — On Thursday, the Freshwater Coast Community Food Alliance (FCCFA) held a meeting featuring guest speaker Mike McGirr, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Feed & Seed in Clemson, South Carolina.

The purpose of this meeting was to brainstorm ideas about how to enhance growers’ businesses and increase agriculture in the Freshwater Coast.

Mike McGirr spoke about the progress that he has made with Feed & Seed and with the food hub in Clemson. “We want our farmers to be profitable so that our farms remain in place,” McGirr noted regarding the future of agribusiness in the area. A high potential of productivity exists in the area, and the multiple acres of open pasture encourage advancement.

Mike McGirr leads discussion on agricultural enhancement of the Upstate with Lee Logan, Matt Wiggins, Stephanie Turner, Penny Parisi, Frank Love, Tim Hall, and others during the Growers Alliance Meeting.

Mike McGirr leads discussion on agricultural enhancement of the Upstate with Lee Logan, Matt Wiggins, Stephanie Turner, Penny Parisi, Frank Love, Tim Hall, and others during the Growers Alliance Meeting.

Organizations such as Ten at the Top and the Regulatory Services division at Clemson support agricultural growth and may be used for the benefit of the quality of life in Abbeville and McCormick counties and the Starr-Iva area of Anderson.

The meeting discussed options that would enhance the area, such as group GAP certification, the need for auditors, a food hub, a new farmer’s market system, a food truck, and a community event dedicated to locally made food and products.

The meeting concluded with forming new committees dedicated to making progress happen and following up on new ideas. The meeting determined that Growers Night will be on August 27th at 6:00 p.m.

Exciting things are happening in the community of business owners and farmers, and the FCCF looks forward to sharing these progressive steps with the entire Freshwater Coast community.

FCCF Hosts Growers Alliance Meeting

Sally Caldwell, Communications Coordinator

June 16, 2015

ABBEVILLE — The Freshwater Coast Community Food Alliance (FCCFA) recently held a meeting in which they discussed the possibility of a golf cart rental business in Calhoun Falls, a farm rental business, and what the future of farming looks like for Abbeville County.

Jason Ashley, a livestock farmer, attended the meeting and provided valuable discourse about what is required in order to maintain successful farming and also the various obstacles that are presented to local producers. Many growers are beginning to sell their products at their farms rather than in the market or through a processor in order to ensure that the customers get what they want and can pay up front. After purchasing the meat at the farm, the buyer then takes the meat to a processor and the buyer pays the processing fee rather than the grower.

The meeting discussed details of livestock farming, such as essential slaughter dates, slaughter houses, and the need for more local meat processors.

Growers Meeting Media

Will Ferreira, Cody White, Amanda Morgan, Jenny Mountford, Tim Hall and Jason Ashley discussing strategies for agribusiness project implementations in the Freshwater Coast Community.

 

The FCCFA was encouraged by the progress made by the feasibility studies and research on local farming. Once these studies are finished, the FCCF will make them available on its website www.freshwatercoastcommunity.org to promote potential agricultural business opportunities.

They also discussed the need for identifying local byproduct buyers as well as training for local butchers. This training would teach butchers how to cut meat well and ensure that the customers get exactly what they order.

Farmer’s market strategies were also discussed, such as the need for a meat market and a certification process required in order to sell at the farmer’s market.

As discussed in the meeting, the Freshwater Coast Community Foundation is taking even more steps to improve agribusiness in Abbeville County, McCormick County, and the southern area of Anderson County.