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Charlie & Pam Watson Prize

Charlie and Pam Watson Award

The prize is awarded annaully to the teacher who best inspires their students to grow food with simplified hydroponics.

Pam and Charlie Watson November, 2011

The award is made as a memorial to Charlie Watson, the founder and owner of The Grow Store, Lakewood Colorado Hydroponics Store. Charlie died unexpectedly in 2010 and this award is made in his memory. Pam Watson continues to run the Grow Store and other businesses as well in Colorado.

The Institute of Simplified Hydroponics has awarded the first annual Charlie and Pam Watson Award to Titus Mandle Sithole of Lusoti High school, Lusoti Region, Swaziland for having inspired and guided two high school students to win an international prize.

The Science in Action competition was sponsored by Scientific American magazine and Google. TWo students of Titus won the $50,000 first prize for their experiment titled "Unique Simplified Hydroponic For Swaziland Poor Subsistence Farmers, offers a new approach to using simplified hydroponics.

The teacher awarded the prize for 2013 is Titus Mandle Sithole.

This first year of the prize asked for projects that address a social, envionmental or health issue to make a difference in the lives of their community.

Sakhiwe Shongwe and Bonkhe Mahlalela, both 14 years old, created a project using simplified hydroponics to help local farmers grow more food with less resources. They created a unique method of simplified hydroponics,using chicken manure in water for the nutrient, and discarded boxes from a market for containers. They compared yields from subsistance soil farmers and their Simplified hydroponic methods.

Sakhiwe Shongwe does not believe that his country should be dependent on imported food aid. He does not believe" in complex strategies the country cannot afford to solve low food productivity."

Shongwe stated, " Educating subsistence farmers is the key, and our experimental project has proven to be one of the best approaches. If we can empower Swazi subsistence farmers with such knowledge of simplified hydroponics, producing organic crops, one challenge, i.e. food shortage in the country, could be significantly reduced. Apart from each family having enough food, surplus crops could be sold to local markets reducing the high food price which are mainly a result of transportation cost of vegetables from South Africa. In addition, the project has positive environmental impacts as it promotes the use of Three Rís [reduce, reuse, recycle] and eliminates soil tilling which results in soil erosion.

Currently, over 80% of the vegetables consumed in Swaziland each year are imported from South Africa, and more than half of the population rely on food aid.

"The system using mature chicken manure in water for the plant nutrient. If the manure is not properly composted it can use a lot of its nitrogen, so composting needs to be carefully done to ensure it keeps its value as a hydroponic nutrient. An option could be to build a wormfarm to compost the chicken manure."

The prize for the Charlie and Pam Watson award is to help the school establish a training program. The first step was to donate 242 seed packets from Rene's Garden Seeds,a donation from Bloomington Wholesale Garden Supply. These seed packets of over 80 types of vegetables allows for the school students to continue to experiment, to establish growing protocols for a wide variety of seeds, and to begin their own production of seeds and seedlings.

Resume of Titus Mandle Sithole

Project for child farmers in Swaziland

Scientfic American Press Release on the Science in Action Prize

Teens Engineer a way to HelpFarmers in Swaziland

Scientific American Article

Beginnings of a project for Swaziland