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What, Growing Algae with No Sun and Vegetables with No Dirt?

October 30, 2012 @ 7:00 pm

CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER–WILL RESCHEDULE ASAP What, Growing Algae with No Sun and Vegetables with No Dirt?
Local University Students Share Sustainability Research

Did you know that algae produces MORE lipids (used for oil production) when grown in stressful conditions? And that hydroponic farming (growing plants without using soil) uses as little as 10% of the water required by traditional agriculture, with no herbicides and little fertilizer?

MAREA is delighted to have students from Rowan and Temple Universities present papers submitted in response to a “Call for Papers” issued by MAREA earlier this year, seeking work by local university students addressing topics or solutions that promise significant advancement in making sustainable obtainable. Their research is fascinating, relevant and accessible (we can all understand it!).

From Rowan University, Kassandra Grimes and Andrea McFarland will describe their current research into methods of growing algae using glucose in an un-lit closed system instead of an open system with a light source. Under these “stressful,” conditions, the algae is expected to produce overall higher lipid yield, and at lower cost. The Rowan research lab currently spends $200/yr to provide artificial light to algae stock cultures; using glucose would cut that to about $5, and be better for the environment. Developing a method for growing microalgae in a closed system without light could make possible the production of algae-biodiesel in small indoor locations.

From Temple University, Judith Norkin will describe a 50,000 square foot hydroponic greenhouse in Lower Makefield designed to provide local, fresh produce year round using sustainable practices. The project, underway now, is a collaboration between McCaffrey’s, an independent supermarket chain in Bucks County, and Bright Farms, a Manhattan-based developer of hydroponic greenhouses. Judy will talk about the benefits of this business model, hoping that other supermarkets will build greenhouses near their own stores, reducing the distances food travels and altering the food distribution system in America.

About the Speakers

Kassandra (Kassie) Grimes and Andrea McFarland are Juniors in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at Rowan, where they are engaged in algae-based research. Kassie, a vegetable gardener and composter, lives on a farm with a horse, three cats, a dog, and a fish named Squirrel. Andrea is an active member of engineers without borders. Earlier this year, she traveled to The Gambia, Africa to assess water retrieval systems of eight villages.
Judith (Judy) Norkin is pursuing a graduate degree in Community and Regional Planning at Temple University. She is a regular contributor to New Jersey Design and has also written about architecture, interior design, landscaping, food, and culture for the Philadelphia Citypaper, Vegetarian Times, Inside Magazine, Brain Child, and other publications. Judy serves on two transportation committees and a neighborhood homeowners’ association in Newtown, PA. Her interest in community and regional planning arose from her community service activities.

After the meeting, plan to stick around and chat with friends old and new. The meeting is free and open to the public, all are welcome. We’re also interested in your ideas for MAREA speakers, activities and services. Light snacks will be served. Hope to see you there! For directions, visit https://themarea.org.

For questions, contact Vera Cole,[masked] or [masked].


October 30, 2012
7:00 pm
Event Category:


TEK Park
9999 Hamilton Blvd.
Breinigsville, PA 18031 us


Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association (eastern PA)