The Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District sponsored the event, held between Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 30.
Members of the Plant City community recently participated in the Plant City-led Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge, a series of events aimed at raising awareness and accountability for conservation of natural resources.
The events took place from Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, through Sunday, April 30, Arbor Day weekend.
The event was sponsored by the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, an organization based in Plant City. According to conservation district board member Mark Proctor, the challenge aimed to “create a greater awareness of the critical need for conservation in urban, suburban and rural communities.”
According to the United Nations, the world’s population will reach 9 billion by 2050. In 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a report stating that food production would need to increase by 70% to sustain that number. The report also cited climate change and poor farming practices as leading sources of a decrease in farm productivity, calling for major intensification of sustainable production methods throughout the world’s farmlands.
“People don’t think about it,” Proctor said. “But if we don’t increase food production by 70% in the next 40 years, we will be confronted with mass starvation due to our burgeoning population.”
Betty Jo Tompkins, executive director of the Hillsborough Soil and
Water Conservation District, said dozens of projects took place in Plant City and surrounding areas during the challenge. In one of the first events, the Plant City Lions Club helped plant 20,000 wildflower seeds in McIntosh Park.
“The goal of this effort is to increase the pollination by bees that is essential for crop production,” Tompkins said. “In fact, bumblebees have just been placed on the endangered species list, and out of over 2,000 species of bees, only seven actually produce honey.”
Additionally, Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Stacy White visited Blues Berry Farms, where owners Susan and Scot Dumke demonstrated their conservation methods. The farm uses a large field fan to help control temperatures at night, employs numerous nuisance animal deterrents and uses micro-drip irrigation, a system that provides precise levels of water and nutrients to a plant’s root zone.
“We were thrilled with the involvement of so many groups from throughout Hillsborough County,” Tompkins said. “(We) are already signing up clubs and individuals for next year’s event.
Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected].