Gainesville Daily Register

March 29, 2013

Volunteers build Frank Buck Zoo greenhouse

By CATHY MOUNCE, Register Staff Writer

Gainesville — The North Central Texas College (NCTC) horticultural class led by Ashley Hartman is helping the Frank Buck Zoo feed its animals.

During a recent class excursion, NCTC students, master gardeners, green house experts and others converged at the zoo to build one of what they hope will be many future green houses.

  “By building this hoop style greenhouse, we are glad we can assist the zoo so that the animals will benefit from nourishing foods,” Hartman said. “Many in my class are working on their bachelors or a horticultural certification. Learning how to build the greenhouse will help them in their future employment opportunities or business.”

   “We feed the animals year round and the green house will give us the ability to subsidize the diet of our animals with organically grown nutrients,” zoo horticulture and operations manager Rebecca Parker said. “For example, we could never afford to buy blackberries for the bear. But by growing our own crops, we have food choices found in the wild that we can subsidize the diets of our animals. Many of the primates love the asparagus. We also grow herbs which are natural additives we can add to feedings.”

Some of Hartman’s students attending were Mary Norblandez, Ginger Roberts, John Ridings, Arthur Lara, Buba Johnson, and Justin Webb.

  Private gardener Theresa Stevens was on hand to learn how to build a hoop green house.

  By special invitation, Steve Upton of the Nobel Foundation in Ardmore, Okla., was on hand to provide assistance in building the green house. The Nobel Foundation specializes in helping the market or home gardener produce high quality vegetables, fruit and flowers on marginal soil. The foundation serves a 47-county area within a 100-mile radius of Ardmore.

“Direct consultation services are open to all in the designated counties and can offer support to all landowners by: mapping and digital imaging of the participant’s land, soil testing and analysis, pecan leaf testing and analysis, forage testing and analysis and farm-mixed feed testing and analysis,” the Noble Foundation’s website states.  Helpline telephone information line is available at (580) 224-6500 and they also offer educational workshops and seminars.

Larger green houses are planned for the zoo to further enhance the facility’s fruit and vegetable gardening efforts.