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Hull and Galindo: The Beauty of Hydroponics

hydroponic rootsAfter the plywood mill in Omak closed, Martin Galindo volunteered in the community and searched for employment.

"I was kinda afraid to go to college, but as soon as I started, it was clear it wasn’t like I thought it would be," Martin said. "It’s comfortable, laid back and there are a lot of other people taking their first steps here as well. It’s easy to build friendships and makes it easier to stay on the right path."

One of those friendships is with fellow student Iver Hull. Iver and Martin met in Jeff Dykes’ Evironmental Life Science class fall quarter. An in-class hydroponics project piqued their interest. In a hydroponic system, plants are grown in nutrient-rich water instead of soil. Because of their enthusiasm, Dykes offered them the opportunity to develop the project further outside of class.

The in-class hydroponics model they used was an older system that lost about two gallons of water per week, Martin said. While significantly less water loss than plants grown in soil, the two thought they could do better. They are now building a staircase model in the campus greenhouse they hope will be a more efficient design for plant growth, increase the space per plant and limit water evaporation.

"Our goal is to produce fresh produce year round for local establishments, especially in the winter months," Iver said. "The beauty is you can have a large crop in a very small space. It reaches maturity more quickly than in soil. You can keep a perfect balance of nutrients and light."

"You actually save water through hydroponics," Martin said. "You lose a lot more water through soil drainage than in a hydroponic system."

After their project is complete they hope future students will be able to expand upon it, said Martin.

Iver and Martin in the greenhouse"This project goes to show how much time the instructors like Jeff Dykes and others are willing to spend on their students and help them succeed," Iver said.

An outdoor enthusiast, Iver has always been interested in the environment. Homeschooled through his senior year, he first came to WVC at Omak to complete his GED. Afterward, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, so he took a few years off before coming back to pursue a college degree.

"I wanted to start off at a slower pace," he said. "WVC was a good starting point for me to explore and decide what I would like to specialize in."

Iver will graduate in August and transfer to Washington State University to pursue a degree in environmental science. Martin is working toward a two-year degree in natural resource science. He hopes to find employment with the Colville tribes.

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