12/23 2014

Hydroponics Research Project In South Oakland – Host Volunteers Needed

Central Page with Research Project Links


UPDATE 2/18/15

The hydroponics workshop will be 3-4pm Sunday 2/22 at Frazier Fieldhouse.

pdf icon Workshop Flyer


UPDATE 2/13/15

Check out update to specifications with pictures at new post


UPDATE 2/9/15

We are asking for input on the Hydroponics Workshop date and time.  Please contact SONG through the contact page to request the link to those choices.

Click here for SONG Contact Page


UPDATE 1/18/15

We have received a couple of inquiries about being a host site. Obviously the more the merrier, but also the better to help improve the project, so if you are interested, definitely let us know.

Several changes or clarifications that came from questions so far on the installations and introductory workshop:

  • The installations will assume using fluorescent grow lights since there are very limited windows with enough direct sunlight.
  • The plants grown will be a last minute decision of Bib, Romaine or similar lettuce that does just fine with artificial light.
  • The design can be somewhat smaller area than originally thought, and some customization for each site. If you are interested, let us know and the students can discuss with you in more detail.
  • The workshop “Hydroponics 101” will be delayed till later in January or early February. Please let us know if you or someone you know would be interested in attending.


Hi everyone!

Recently, a group of students at Pitt has been accepted into the Honors College Community-Based Research Fellowship program for the spring semester and the community group they chose to partner with is SONG! The project is focused on implementing hydroponics, or the growing of plants without soil, in our community over the winter. Developing an effective way to cheaply grow food over the winter can begin to empower and assist communities with limited fresh food access.

How does it work?

Plants are started as seedlings in a growth medium within a greenhouse tray for a few days and then transplanted into a PVC piping system for culturing and harvesting. This hydroponic piping system carries a mineral nutrient-rich solution within water to stimulate plant growth. With a few weeks of good water circulation, the plants will be ready for harvesting. The specific plant we’ll be using is bibb lettuce, because it’s been proven as a successful hydroponic plant.

What role does SONG play?

From early February to early April, three SONG community members (see below) will have one of these hydroponic systems installed in their residences. Every week, at a time of the residents’ choosing, one of the students will visit and make sure the equipment is running properly and get feedback about system improvements. If you’d like to get involved, here are a few ways to engage:

  • Introductory Workshop  “Hydroponics 101”:  Tentatively January 20th at 6pm.  The students will be presenting an introductory workshop for the community to learn about hydroponic cultivation and growing their own food!

  • WE NEED VOLUNTEERS:  February through April – Three interested South Oakland residents will be housing a hydroponic system. Participants will get to keep any of the lettuce harvested, gain valuable hydroponics experience and help with the research and development of more affordable, easy-to-use hydroponic systems and food production. The only major requirements are:

    • a 3’ x 6’ floor space near a window (preferably facing south, but not required)

    • room temperatures over 60°F

    • Able to meet one hour weekly so the students can check the system, collect data and feedback.

Let us know if you have any questions.  We would like to hear from those willing to volunteer to host these systems as soon as possible to go over other details of the project and plan for the installations.   If you know any other South Oakland neighbors that might be interested in learning more about hydroponics, or this project, please let them know and have them contact us to get involved.

Check back for any new details.


South Oakland Neighborhood Group