How many people can you feed with plants grown in a two-liter bottle?
That’s not the kind of question you hear every day — unless you are doing research into urban agriculture, like Dr. Jason Streubel, associate professor of biology at Evangel University.
Streubel also leads the Agriculture Initiative of Convoy of Hope, and it is his work with this Springfield-based organization that has excited biology students at Evangel.
“In addition to our ongoing work in Haiti, we have started working with a group of urban pastors in Detroit,” said Streubel. “We are downsizing the concept of community gardens. We are teaching the pastors to ‘plant what you can, anywhere you can.’”
Since launching their efforts in Haiti, Streubel and his teams have trained 2,300 farmers in best management practices specific to their region and crops. They recently polled 400 farmers who reported a 250 percent increase in yield and an 80 percent increase in income as a result of Convoy’s education and seed program.
“So this year, my Evangel students are working on discovering the yield potential of various containers,” he said. “We know what to expect from traditional gardens. But we want to know what will grow in a common plastic bottle.”
Evangel students studied academic and professional publications last semester, and then established parameters to implement the spring research.
Beans will be planted in four types of containers in Evangel’s greenhouse — a simulated garden, 4-inch pots, one-liter plastic bottles and two-liter plastic bottles.
“This research directly correlates to everything we are doing at Convoy of Hope, from the inner city of Detroit to the fields of Haiti,” Streubel said.
“This is also an academic evaluation. We hope that our findings could be published and presented at The American Society of Agronomy meetings.”
Streubel is pleased that his collaboration gives students a hands-on experience and helps Convoy of Hope expand its work.
“It is my desire to inspire and equip the next generation of faith-based scientists working in organizations like Convoy of Hope and in universities around the world.”