Environmental issues intersect with education and the future of the planet in a number of ways.  I currently conduct research on companion planting at the University of Central Florida Arboretum’s Community Organic Garden.  Not only have I been educating student and community volunteers at the Arboretum the past year and a half I’ve been researching, but I will also be presenting the research and the results and conclusions of my research at both Stetson University and UCF’s research showcases in the coming months and hope to eventually publish my work as well.  By educating myself through the research that I’ve conducted and with the guidance of my mentors and coworkers, I’ve been able to educate others on what I’ve learned.  ‘Our planet. Our Education. Our Future.’  Our planet definitely comes first, and by educating yourself and others around you, I believe only then can we can look to a greener and brighter future.  My abstract for my research that I will be presenting on a form of gardening called companion planting:

Companion planting is a method of gardening in which two or more plants grown in close proximity harbor an advantageous relationship (‘companions’) to the benefit of one or more of the combined plants.  Two experiments on companion plants were conducted at the UCF Arboretum’s Garden: one with sunflower and okra where sunflower is known to attract pollinators with its heightened display of color and aroma, and the second with sage and cabbage where the sages’ odor deters pests from its companion, cabbage.  It was hypothesized that because of these beneficial effects of companion planting, greater harvest yield would result in the experimental plots in terms of vegetable weight and length/circumference, than the vegetables grown in control plots without their companion plant.

The experiments were run separately according to season and consisted of three experimental and three control plots where data on number of pest and beneficial insects, stem height, and abnormalities were recorded during growth.  At harvest, the vegetables’ weight and length/circumference were recorded to find that the vegetables in the experimental beds significantly benefited by the companion plants’ known roles, but the harvest yield didn’t differ between experimental and control plots.  These results show that the benefits of companion planting, in these cases, guaranteed pollination and virtually eliminated the need of insecticides.  Experimental findings help to promote a greener, cheaper, and less labor intensive form of gardening that can be used by not only the Arboretum’s staff and volunteers, but also other Central Florida gardeners.