The water crisis is a global issue; it is a finite resources and ongoing problem even in the wetlands of Florida. Since agriculture accounts for up to 80% of water consumed in the country, it has been a large focus in water conservation practices. Hydroponics, aquaponics, and drip irrigation are all options to help decrease the rate of water used in agriculture. However, there is still much room for improvement, as these methods can be costly and/or not applicable to some crops. Reclaimed water may be another option.
Gamble Creek Farms, a CSA and training centre operated by the local non-profit organization Florida West Coast RC&D, is currently researching and testing the use of reclaimed water in agriculture. They are currently working on growing eucalyptus for limber and biofuel, but hope to one day use the water for other crops, namely irrigation. Reclaimed water is cheap, it decreases the stress on fresh water resources, and recycles water that would otherwise by wasted. Eric Geraldson, the farm manager at Gamble Creek, also uses hydroponic systems, well water, and a large retention pond, optimizing his water conservation.
Perhaps most importantly, the Florida West Coast RC&D operates a training facility through Gamble Creek, helping local farmers adopt water conservation practices and, through the MARS grant program, helps farmers install the needed infrastructure on their own property. Together, they are helping local farmers while also providing another source of fresh local food for the people of Manatee County
In this way, the partners at Florida West Coast RC&D and Gamble Creek Farms are taking a gamble, testing new solutions to larger global solutions to the water crisis, but the innovations are worth the risk for those involved.Think before you eat, Elizabeth Murray Winter 2012 Tampa Food Warrior