The Gulfport Food Forest may be a little out of the way for New College of Florida Senior Nora Flower, but that didn’t stop her from beginning a long-term experiment in the soil at Gulfport’s Clymer Park, located at 5501 27th Ave. S.
Currently, Flower has begun a series of pilot studies where she will test the effectiveness of various nitrogen levels on planted grains.
The college senior hopes to use her findings in a final thesis, as well as to shed light on more “green” farming practices.
“I’m looking at ways grains can be grown in a more sustainable way,” Flower said. “I’m especially interested in practices that help local communities.”
The Nitty Gritty
The study, which has kicked off with four plots of plants – two at the Gulfport Food Forest and two at the New College of Florida Food Forest – will eventually bloom into a full-fledged project that will continue into January of 2020.
With the green light of Gulfport city officials, the agroecology student went right to work drawing out her eco-friendly plans.
“I’m extremely supportive of her project,” said Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson.
For now, it’s beginning with natural Clymer Park soil and a series of planted sorghum and pigeon pea plants. According to Flower, the sorghum, a cereal grain, will be grown next to the pigeon pea plants in multiple trials to test out how nitrogen-producing legumes affect the rapid growth of grains.
An Edible Landscape
While Clymer Park is a useful spot for local festivals and scenic walks, the 1.5-acre property is also used by food forest volunteers and community members to grow food organically.
Flower originally heard about Gulfport’s unique park through Gulfport Food Forest Director and Eckerd College administrator Amanda Hagood.
“We use natural processes to grow our food,” Hagood said, “which is why so many students and scientists have been attracted to the Gulfport Food Forest.”