Head grower at Sundrop Farms in Australia David Pratt, who graduated from NC’s Greenhouse Technician program in 2007, will make a special guest appearance at Niagara College on Friday, Nov. 23 to speak about his unique greenhouse growing system that can be used worldwide in coastal and arid areas.
While agriculture uses about 70% of the world’s fresh water supply, Sundrop discovered a cost-effective method of producing food while saving millions of liters of fresh water and millions of barrels of oil. The company is currently undergoing a $30-million expansion and is launching a Sahara Forest Project in the Middle East.
“It’s inspiring to see a young graduate to be involved in such a life-changing project,” said Olga Piedrahita, Greenhouse/Horticulture professor and coordinator of the College’s Greenhouse Program and Horticulture Research.
Piedrahita noted that this is the first commercial greenhouse that grows with salt water, having the potential to feed many regions of the earth where people are currently hungry; and the first to successfully produce vegetables using ocean water and the sun for most of its needs. She pointed out that others have tried and not been successful, while Pratt and his team have been able to achieve this in a sustainable manner with nothing wasted in their system.
“In a harsh environment like Australia, you can have the best engineers, but if you do not have a grower that understands plants you will not be successful,” she said. “This already has had a huge impact in Australia and now it is going worldwide. It all started at Niagara College for David, and now it is moving from Sundrop Australia to other areas of the world.”
Pratt has been nominated for a 2012 Premier’s Award in the Recent Graduate category for his work. This is Pratt’s second consecutive nomination for the prestigious Premier’s Awards for Ontario College Graduates which are presented annually to six recipients to celebrate their outstanding contributions in the province and throughout the world. This year’s winners will be announced at the Colleges Ontario Higher Education Summit on Nov. 26 in Toronto.
Don’t miss David Pratt’s presentation at Niagara College Friday, Nov. 23, 11:30 a.m., Room HT 006, Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus. Everyone welcome.