Where Are They Now?
Where Are They Now: Jason Bach
By Megan Waterman What would you do if you had a green thumb, but you lived where you could grow plants only a few short months of the year? Would you resort to planting sprays of fake flowers throughout your home, or would you simply give up and embrace the barrenness of the landscape? Jason Bach '97 has a solution. His business, South Park Hydroponics, supports the need for mountainous regions with short growing seasons to grow flowers and vegetables indoors.
A practice hundreds of years old, hydroponics is still not as widely used as growing plants in the earth's soil, though it is just as successful in producing vegetation. Hydroponics utilizes trays filled with fibrous blocks to support the growth of plants. These trays are then placed under a light source and given water so that they may thrive. Plants grown using hydroponics typically enjoy a relatively stress free, pest free and disease free life, resulting in cleaner crops overall. Another advantage to hydroponic plants is that they take up less space than field plants. Hydroponics farmers use systems that allow one full acre's worth of plants within a matter of a few hundred cubic feet. Not only can flowers and other foliage flourish this way, but tomatoes and small lettuces grow successfully using this method.
Though now the owner of a successful business, Jason Bach did not immediately jump into the hydroponics field. He graduated from Drury as a public relations major and began his career selling real estate in Colorado. After the housing market crashed, he saw an opportunity to explore the field of hydroponics and solve the problem of a limited growing season.
According to Bach, "As far as the future goes, I think we will see a lot more hydroponic gardening. As our population grows, there is obviously going to be more construction development going on, creating less land available for farming. Therefore, we are going to need to find ways to produce more food and use less land doing it, and hydroponics is one way to do that. The space program has been doing a lot of research in hydroponic gardening for the space station, so I definitely see it as the wave of the future."
Megan Waterman is an English and writing major and student assistant in the Office of Alumni & Development
Where Are They Now: The Murrs
"2 Bikes. 2 Toddlers. 1 Epic Family Adventure"
This could be the tagline of a Disney summer blockbuster, but it's reality for one Drury family. Stuart Murr '97 and Kate (Brady) Murr '01, along with five-year-old Jane and three-yearold Brady, have spent the summer biking from St. Augustine, Florida to Seaside, Oregon, in the name of family, health and adventure.
The Murrs kicked off their journey with the Spring Out Springfield Family Jamboree on April 17 at Jordan Valley Park. They partnered with the Springfield Greene County Park Board to host this family-focused event. The Jamboree gave people in the community a chance to celebrate the outdoors, explore healthy living and connect with each other—ideals that the Murrs hoped to promote throughout the entire summer.
The Murrs started planning the trip in August 2009, prompted in part by Stuart's mother expressing her one regret: wishing she had traveled more with her family when she was young. Stuart, an architect specializing in sustainable building, and Kate, a board member of The Living Green Network with a background in marketing and writing, saw an opportunity to combine their natural passion for the environment and love of the outdoors with a desire to create lasting memories for their children. Thus Murrs Across America was born. The Murrs have spent the 4,403.2-mile journey traveling safely on back roads, exploring small towns and eating locally grown food.
Along the way they have encountered a young traveler charting his own route across the U.S., an authentic Sioux powwow in South Dakota, flooded bike trails in Nebraska, a Pawnee musician and medicine man on the Katy Trail…and that was just the month of June.
In the home stretch of the trip in late July, Kate said the family has an overwhelming sense of optimism for the country after how far they've come. They have found hope in the warmth and hospitality of total strangers who have shared their homes, lives, meals and stories.
The Murrs have documented the summer on their blog at Murrbike.com and on a Murrs Across America Facebook page, where you can read all about their adventures, see photos from the journey, and—the Murrs would hope—maybe start to plan a family adventure of your own.
The goals of the Murrs Across America project included:
- Inspiring other families to get outside and enjoy time together.
- Making memories and having an adventure as a family.
- Traveling in a way that's always local and personal.
- Promoting biking as a sustainable, healthy vehicle for change.
- Highlighting the treasures we do have—even in an economic downturn, we still have energy, time and adventure.