I am still a road warrior in a U-Haul pulling a car trailer but saw this very important article about more of Lorraine Gibbon's good work in Newark, NJ.
Her company, Garden State Urban Farms, is a shining example of a business exemplifying civic responsibility in lower income urban neighborhoods. We need a green legion of people like Lorraine and educator Stephen Ritz of the Green Bronx Machine to help solve our national nutrition and obesity problems.
Lorraine is experienced in both conventional greenhouse hydroponics and EarthBox planters that employ a passive hydroponics technique.
It is a sure sign of the poor health of our horticultural education system that we are still calling sub-irrigated planters (SIPs) like EarthBoxes "self watering planters." That's bad but what is even worse is the cursory mention of them only as self-watering planters in gardening writer columns and on USDA sponsored extension program websites. Professional growers never use this misleading term.
America can do better! Join the green legion of forward-looking urban food growers at home or explore the field of tech-based food growing as a socially responsible career path.
Do not hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to assist you in any way I can by drawing on over 40 years of experience with simple plant growing technology such as SIPs.
I have a significant menu of business ideas to share. Tell me about your personal interests and goals. I will do my best to suggest compatible paths to them. I will be posting more about socially responsible green growing careers once I get settled in my new home.
Read more about my professional journey. Please forgive the length. It is in need of editing.
urbangreenscaper [AT] gmail [DOT] com
A hydroponic garden -- which uses water rather than soil to deliver nutrients to plants -- should help wash away even more of Newark’s food desert
The health benefits of fresh vegetables are well known. The process of creating a garden where residents can join hands to teach one another how to raise crops provides countless additional social and economic advantages to the surrounding community. These gains become even more important in a neighborhood that has traditionally lacked access to healthy food, safe community spaces, and job opportunities.
Many parts of Newark are just such a food desert. The lack of resources in New Jersey’s largest city caused leaders at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center to start an urban garden and farm market, a project that has flourished over the past five years to become a key part of the hospital’s larger Wellness Program.
On Tuesday the hospital, a part of the RWJ/Barnabas Health network, is scheduled to host a grand opening of a hydroponic greenhouse, the latest addition to the program. The facility uses nutrient-infused water to grow plants, and follows a commercial aeroponic greenhouse, which uses just mist, that opened last spring in the Ironbound. Hospital officials said the Beth Greenhouse will double the output available through the existing garden, allow food production all year, and serve as a local base for horticultural and other job-training and employment efforts.
The project, which Barnabas said is the only one of its kind nationwide, will host programs for disabled residents, veterans, and former prisoners. It will also allow them to expand on work done at the current garden, which has led to cooking classes for hospital outpatients, and become a critical part of the community fabric, they said.
The greenhouse and garden projects are also part of a larger trend toward wellness in general. Government programs like Medicaid and Medicare and private health insurance companies are shifting toward payment models that reward doctors for their quality of care, instead of the quantity of visits or treatments they provide. And there has been a growing understanding in recent years of the need to also focus on keeping people healthy, instead of just treating them after they become sick.
“These kinds of things are really avant garde. People still come to the hospital when they are sick,” explained Barbara Mintz, the RWJ/Barnabas vice president who oversees community engagement and healthy-living efforts, like the Wellness Program. “Hospitals need to be a place of wellness. This is a real culture change.”
Mintz said this work is particularly important in a city like Newark, where many residents battle health issues like obesity and high blood pressure; these conditions can benefit from a diet full of fresh vegetables. According to a 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Jersey scored – both state-wide and in low-income areas – two points below the national average on a 10-point scale designed to measure residents’ access to fresh, healthy food versus the availability of fast food restaurants and convenience stores in their communities.