Indoor light gardening for food and profit is an underexploited urban activity at the consumer level. It would be helpful if there was more leadership from extension agents like Bob Hochmuth, U of Florida Extension rather than so-called "master gardener" volunteers.
Do recently reduced extension budgets preclude this? If so, the value of extension programs for consumers is greatly reduced.
Master gardeners may be well-intentioned but lack the experience and higher education of extension agents and educators. Their experience is typically anecdotal from home hobby gardening. Their depth of experience is simply no match for that of an extension agent.
My personal experience over the past eight years has revealed little or no extension leadership like Bob's for consumers in either Brooklyn or Southern California. Foolishly the conversation is all about dirt gardening outdoors in these huge urban populations with high-priced and often contaminated urban land.
A national program of light gardens in every public and private school in America would help to change this outdated legacy education. We have already entered a new age of T-5 fluorescents, LEDs and hydroponics that is unknown to most dirt gardeners.
What we need is more forward looking leadership from our public education system. It won't be easy changing old habits but it can be done with more public awareness. More STEM before stems is one path to help solve our national obesity crisis with the availability of more hyper-local fresh food.
What we have done so far has had meager results. I take long walks in Balboa Park every day and cannot help but observe our weight problem.
I haven't counted but the number of slim bodies appears to be in the minority. Unbelievably, we have managed to morph the human body in just one lifetime. There will be a day of reckoning and I believe the cost of that will be high.
In context of our urban population (now 80% nationally, 95% in California) I think the following article is worth reading but overly optimistic about the number of urbanites actually practicing any form of indoor "STEM gardening" other then marijuana.
National obesity has occurred in the age of pot. Hopefully a new awareness about hydroponics due to legalization will also help to trigger a solution.
As urban populations grow, innovative solutions to feeding all those people are being fine-tuned on vacant city lots, in abandoned warehouses and in the basements and backyards of city-dwellers across the country.
Local growers are experimenting with hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics and other intensive food production systems, with the goal of providing food that does not need to be shipped long distances.
Many urban farmers are also finding low-tech growing techniques still make sense with many crops such as baby greens and microgreens.
Because these crops can be easily grown indoors, without expensive growing systems and equipment, they are just right for growers on a budget. Here’s what you need to know about growing microgreens: Read more...