Disney’s Land at Disney World

Well the visit to Disney World has flown by. With a less than stellar Internet connection, I haven’t been able to post from WDW’s Dolphin as I wished.  But I took lots of great notes and I will be putting up posts in the days to come.

While you are waiting for your Epcot Soarin’ fast pass ticket time to roll boat-touraround here is a sustainability minded recommendation.  In Epcot’s Land Building, I went on the Living with the Land boat ride/tour.  It was an interesting look at a very different side of Disney.  First the ride is a gentle boat ride through 3 different eco systems – rainforest, desert and grassland prairie.  Then a nice replica of an America farmhouse front porch.  This flows into the improvements in Agriculture that have been made of the past years.  This is where my interests start to peak.  After a few large screens that segue into pest management you enter the greenhouses.  melonThe sights come fast and furious at this point.  Bananas, Papayas, Jack Fruit, on and on with exotic and non exotic varieties of plants.  This is where I decided to opt for the extensive walking tour after this boat ride.  I could see I was interested in what they had to say.  So after the tropical greenhouse, fish farm, and other greenhouse spaces you end the peaceful trip a little more aware of the impact we have made on the land.

After the boat tour, I went to sign up for the Behind the Seeds tour.  This is located at the Soarin’ information desk.  The tour takes about an hour and is well worth it if you have even a passing interest in either growing or eating anything agricultural.  The tour is an additional fee of $16.  Be sure to check out the discounts that apply.  I am a member of AAA but didn’t have my card with me and the very nice attendant gave it to me anyway.  So mine tour was $13.

The Behind the Seeds walking tour starts in the pest management area.  A very informative short film is narrated by your guide.  Lady Bugs and Wasps are the good guys in this one.  Their non-pesticide effects on harmful pests are impressive.

Our guide was a student intern from Colorado State.  He said that they had the intern positions for a six month period.  Smart guy, he picked the right seeds-pansix months to be in Florida versus Colorado. 

In the greenhouses there are many experiments on how things are grown tom-plantand produced.  Sort of a build a better plant workshop – faster, bigger and stronger.  One of the tomato plants that was developed from a Chinese variety has been trimmed and trained into a tree.  They believe that this technique produces more tomatoes per plant than a typical plant.  After seeing it, I would have to be a believer as well.  One of the plants lived and produced for 16 months.  It yielded a record crop of 32,000 tomatoes!

vert-growAnother very interesting technique on the tour was the space saving plantings.  A strawberry farmer developed these vertical growing stacks.  These were made out of Styrofoam forms but I think you could make them out of many different types of containers.  It not only saves space but in large operations it saved the workers backs.

Not only were they researching hydroponics but aeroponics as well.  Here are some brussel sprout plants that are hooked up to a hanging conveyor system.  They circle around the circuit and get sprayed with water, needing no soil or ground space to produce vegetables.  The spray system is contained so any extra water the plant doesn’t absorb will be reclaimed fish-with-boat-tourback into he system for reuse for the next plant.  Check out my video link on the sidebar for this moving system.

The fish farming part of the tour is inside the red shrouded room.  It was explained by our intern that the red helps to keep the algae production down, in turn keeping the tanks cleaner.  There were Talapia, shrimp, American alligator, catfish, sturgeon, striped bass, and eel.  The Talapia were scarey looking fish.  They are ravetalapianous feeders.  Even though they are mostly harmless for us, I was not about to put my hand in the tank as one of the other tourists were allowed to do.  He said it felt like sandpaper.  They were also integrating a system of talapia with plants and using the fish waste as a fertilizer for the plants.

The kids on the walking tour didn’t seem to get bored with the grown up topics, so if you can talk your family into an hour more of walking I would recommend this for all Disney goers.  Look past the silliness of the Disney shaped pumpkins and cucumbers and look into the benefits of Disney research.  We could all benefit from the research done in this place.

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