PA Department of Agriculture tour visits DelVal

Jul 11, 2017

DelVal greenhouse tour

Credit: Delaware Valley University. Chris Filling, hydroponics greenhouse manager, leads a tour of DelVal's greenhouses. Delaware Valley University was the first stop on an educational tour the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is hosting for its urban agriculture partners.  

As interest in vertical farming continues to grow, The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is hosting an educational tour for its urban agriculture partners featuring hydroponics and aquaponics programs in Pennsylvania. Delaware Valley University was the first stop on the tour, which kicked off today in the Philadelphia area.  Guests toured the University’s hydroponics and aquaponics greenhouses to see how DelVal is preparing students for these industries.

In hydroponics, growers use soilless systems for more precise control of inputs. In aquaponics, fish provide nutrients for plants in a soilless system. These systems allow growers to produce food in unconventional places, using less space and resources.

“The hydroponics and aquaponics industries have tremendous potential to help solve pressing challenges such as how to feed a growing population with limited resources,” said DelVal Interim Dean of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Dr. Chris Tipping. “At DelVal, we’re educating our students about these industries and we’re also reaching out into the larger community to partner with other educational programs. There’s a real sense of excitement about hydroponics and aquaponics in Pennsylvania.”

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Special Assistant for Workforce Development Dr. Scott J. Sheely was part of organizing the tour.

“As schools, government officials and businesses look at ways to apply the technology to grow food in cities, there has been a demand for education on urban agriculture,” said Dr. Sheely. “The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture invited its urban agriculture partners to join it in visiting sites across Pennsylvania to learn more about this technology and how it is being used in the region. DelVal was chosen as a stop because the University is investing in research and education in hydroponics and aquaponics.”

DelVal President Dr. Maria Gallo and Dr. Tipping addressed the group.

DelVal is currently building a new specialization in hydroponics and aquaponics within its established Department of Plant Science thanks to the generous support of DelVal Trustee Kate Littlefield.

“Delaware Valley University is building a state-of-the-art hydroponics and aquaponics teaching and research program,” said Dr. Tipping. “This support was used to renovate two greenhouses as well as to provide the opportunity to create the first endowed professorship in DelVal history. This professor will lead the program.”

The tour will visit sites in Lancaster on July 12 and end in Harrisburg on July 13. Other stops include: W.B. Saul High School, Metropolis Farm, Aero Development, Garden Spot Village, Steelton-Highspire High School, Ladder & Vine and Messiah College.