Garden helps Ellwood in effort go green

Published 9:16 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ellwood Christian Academy is going green with a new indoor garden donated Monday by the National Institute for Environmental Sustainability. 

The National Institute for Environmental Sustainability and Training and representatives from Acopia Harvest International presented the school with a hydroponics system. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants and nutrients without using soil. The green school initiative derived from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and promises to incorporate the right to breathe clean air, eat clean food and drink clean water. Dr. Gerald Austin Sr., CEO of Mega International, was on hand to present the system. He said Selma seems to be a city where dreams come true.

“For this project, as for becoming green, we believe it is a dream we’re attempting to do something that’s so great that it’s almost as impossible, as would’ve been the dream Martin Luther King Jr. had over 50 years ago,” he said.

ECA is the first green school in the state, Austin said. The school has demonstrated a commitment to environmental sustainability, he said.

“It (ECA) is a microcosm of Selma’s population,” Austin said. “It was a great target for us to get into Selma, and to also demonstrate to not just the private sector, but the public sector what can be done.”

Austin wasn’t the only one enthused about the green school initiative. Ellwood headmaster Gary Crum was also excited about the system.

“The machine was put together a couple of days ago,” he said. “You can watch food grow overnight.”

The Black Belt is the perfect spot for the initiative and the indoor garden to flourish, Crum said. He said the garden has everything it needs, including the land, resources and people.

The indoor garden is probably one of the largest things to take place in education, he said. Crum said the garden is more than just an area for food and nutrients to thrive. The garden carries a meaningful message for his school.

“With us being a Christian academy, we are more concerned about being good stewards and caretakers of this great planet that God has trusted to our care,” he said.

In addition, Crum said he hopes the garden will spark other areas of the city, including employment.

“It will provide opportunities for our children to be engaged in ways in which they can affect the quality of life,” Crum said.