Sunday, August 25, 2013
Motivated by rising food and fuel costs and concerns over genetically modified crops, Bicton College has taken the ‘food fight’ into its own hands.
From melons, aubergines and grapes, to lemongrass and the highly profitable Thai Basil, Bicton College horticulturalists and volunteers have been cultivating high quality, chemical free fruit and veg.
Andrea Rye, a horticulture instructor at Bicton College, said: “We don’t use any chemicals in our growing and encourage natural growth so our food tastes just as it should and we are working towards being 100 per cent organic.”
A surprising addition to the growing supply of edibles is this year’s abundance of water melons.
Andrea said: “We’ve had resounding success with the water melons. Last year we planted them in the glass houses but with limited root space they didn’t grow. This year I put the seed in the polytunnel and they’ve taken over.”
Another polytunnel success is the lemongrass crop: “They told me I couldn’t do it so I set out to prove people wrong.”
Due to the rapid decline in bee and other pollinator species, the college needed a strong attraction for the bugs to keep the crops producing.
In one case the volunteers actually had to pollinate the aubergines by hand using a paintbrush as the aubergine flowers were not attracting enough pollinators.
This resulted in the horticulture team spending a month to sow a Wild Flower Garden. Originally the plot was used for growing squashes and pumpkins but is now a sea of blue, red and yellow flowers and the area is full of bees, hover flies and butterflies.