SFA horticulture students learning about sustainable plantings v - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

SFA horticulture students learning about sustainable plantings via prairie gardens

The plantings are sparse now, but over time the plot will be filled with a thick coverage of native plants. (Source: KTRE Staff) The plantings are sparse now, but over time the plot will be filled with a thick coverage of native plants. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Dr. Jared  Barnes, an SFA horticulture professor, is teaching students about prairie gardens, a sustainable plot that attracts pollinators. (Source: KTRE Staff) Dr. Jared Barnes, an SFA horticulture professor, is teaching students about prairie gardens, a sustainable plot that attracts pollinators. (Source: KTRE Staff)
The prairie gardens are placed among the SFA Sprout Garden to attract pollinators. (Source: KTRE Staff) The prairie gardens are placed among the SFA Sprout Garden to attract pollinators. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Prairie gardens are the latest trend for urban areas. Lots of native plants are placed in a small plot utilizing space in a more efficient way. (Source: KTRE Staff) Prairie gardens are the latest trend for urban areas. Lots of native plants are placed in a small plot utilizing space in a more efficient way. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

Stephen F. Austin State University horticulture students have a jump start on Saturday's Earth Day. 

They're learning about the latest trend for urban gardens, and it’s something you can do at home.

Sustainable plantings that mimic nature is the premise behind prairie gardens.

"What I would suggest doing is to give it a bit more random look for the prairie look that we're going for in these food prairies,” said Dr. Jared Barnes, a horticulture professor at SFA.

Barnes is teaching students how to design and grow the sustainable garden. 

"What we're doing here is we're combining plants with similar growth strategies together in sort of a smart and intelligent way based on science and research,” Barnes said.

Ultimately, prairie gardens are designed to protect pollinators needed for a healthy food sources.

"In urban areas, we're losing a lot of space due to urbanization, and what this does is we can plant a lot of things for beneficial insects and such in small areas,” said Hunter Walker, a horticulture student.

Protecting pollinators is a universal concern. Exchange student Nigar Hussin said he wants to return the knowledge to his native Pakistan.

"It's a big industry because it's like 42 percent of Pakistani economy depends on agriculture, but still most of the people are lacking in modern technology,” Hussin said.

These smaller urban gardens utilize a bit of back work, good dirt and specimens found in native grasslands. 

"We  have asparagus, salvia, sage, mountain mums, and some asters for some wonderful seasonal filler,” said Juli-Joy Malone.

The prairie garden plots may look a bit sparse right now, but eventually, the plants will grow thickly together providing a perfect habitat for pollinators.   

You can watch the progress of the prairie gardens located on the south side of the Agriculture Building on the SFA campus. The only request is do not pick any of the vegetables from the Sprout Garden. Harvests are available to the public each Thursday at noon behind the Ag Building.

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