This is one state that has an extension program that is in tune with the ultimate boss and that is the taxpaying consumer.
Florida is first in indoor plant production and in the top ten in terms of total agricultural receipts. California is at the top of the agriclutural receipts list with Texas a distant second. You would logically think that Californing would be the national leader in the use of modern urban food production methods based on science and technology.
Humboldt Park is a predominantly Puerto Rican-American neighborhood in Chicago. It has a storied tradition.
This article is about the opening of the first of twenty hydroponic rooftop gardens. As a result, all of the people in this section of Chicgo, young and old, are going to learn some good stuff about biology, botany, plant growing technology and urban food production.
This is obviously a significant financial undertaking and I wonder about the funding. I will try to find out.
The following is from the FARM:shop website. It is now open and there is much new information to blog about. It is all about local food, community and modern methods of growing such as hydroponics and aquaponics. Stay tuned.
Mark Bittman's Food Manifesto calls for breaking up the USDA. I agree!
The USDA is a powerhouse agency of agricultural production support as defined by corn, soy and wheat. It is the friendly big brother of large corporate farming.
However, as an agency of consumer gardening education it is a total flop. The USDA propagandizes the consumer gardening market with growing advice that is glaringly out of date. All they seem to know is dig, dig, dig.
Their educators appear to know very little about modern urban food production methods such as portable micro gardens, sub-irrigation, simplified hydroponics, aquaponics and hydroculture. As a result, dollar a day people in emerging economies know more about these methods than we do. They get their information from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
It is an egregious situation that we not only pay USDA educator salaries but we also pay for out of date information. It is time to call it what it is and that is a gross waste of taxpayer money and harmful to urbanized society.
Mark Bittman is an American food journalist and author. He wrote a weekly column for The New York Times dining section called The Minimalist. The final The Minimalist column was published on January 26, 2011. Bittman will continue writing as a columnist for the New York Times Magazine, and he will have a column in the paper's Opinion section; he will also be blogging.
What a pleasure it was a couple of weeks ago to meet Philson Warner of Cornell University Cooperative Extension and have a tour of his lab. No, I did not have to travel to Cornell's home in upstate Ithaca thanks to a meeting and lab tour sponsored by Food Systems Network NYC and the Food and Finance High School in Manhattan.
To my utter amazement I discovered that Philson is in charge of Cornell's hydroponics, aquaponics learning lab housed within the Food and Finance High School right here in New York City.
I had no idea that Cornell had this food technology resource in Manhattan and wonder how many other New Yorkers know about it. I'm guessing not many.
Read the following article from the Cornell Chronicle Online and learn more. I will have more to say about Philson's good work in the future. He and the lab deserve much more recognition.
Searching for a job? Want to start a business, live a healthier life or improve your child’s science education? Are you a peri-urban farmer looking to sell more in your local city? Are you a hunger fighting non-profit looking to feed more mouths? Are you a school principal looking to upgrade your science education? If your answer is yes to any of these, a new class of technology products may be the solution you are looking for.
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The NY Times reports that kids are still not eating vegetables. Teaching children at a very early age about the use of modern technology-based, personal vegetable production systems might help. It is worth trying.
I had a candy addiction as a young child. Fresh picked vegetables were just like candy. I ate them because they were sweet and tasted good, not because they were nutritious and good for me.
Handing shovels to digital age, mobile phone using kids and telling them to dig dirt is pure folly. In my view, that idea is as dumb as dirt.
The baby-carrot industry tried to reposition its product as junk food, starting a $25 million advertising campaign whose defining characteristics include heavy metal music, a phone app and a young man in a grocery cart dodging baby-carrot bullets fired by a woman in tight jeans.
On the East Side of Manhattan, crates of heirloom vegetables with names like Lady Godiva squash were auctioned for $1,000 each at Sotheby’s, where the wealthy are more accustomed to bidding on Warhols and Picassos than turnips and tomatoes.
In the Q&A session, there was an opportunity to poll the audience by show of hands. I asked who of them were familiar with sub-irrigated planter systems (SIPs), micro gardens and simplified hydroponics. The response was less than 10% of the audience to all three questions.
It was most revealing to once again experience how little the subject of modern methods of personal food production are known in our society. The USDA fog machine (and others) have done a most effective job of keeping the focus on traditional dirt farming methods that are clearly less appropriate for personal use in city neighborhoods.
Simple-to-use personal food growing systems are safe, highly productive, produce no run-off and conserve water.
These systems avoid growing in often-contaminated city soil and produce in the range of 50% more produce per square foot while saving 80-90% of the water used in overhead irrigation.
People can grow on concrete, on balconies and rooftops. Space in the sun for a micro garden system is all they need. Unlike dirt gardens, micro gardens or micro farms can be certified organic from day one.
There is no need for time-strapped people to have to travel to a dirt garden to grow some fresh food. These gardens are fine for people who have the time and motivation to garden in a group but they should not be the sole option.
There is no reason for people holding two jobs to water plants two times a day during the heat of the summer. Dirt gardening as the norm makes little sense in the city. If we really want to reduce obesity and hunger, we need to live in the modern world and use some very simple but highly productive technology. The only thing holding us back is lack of education.
Will urban gardens save America? This lofty topic was taken on tonight by a panel of experts representing different aspects of the urban agriculture movement that provided an interesting overview of the issue.
Teaching kids to eat dandelion leaves, ensuring capital for commercially-scalable urban agricultural projects, and the impracticality of rooftop gardens were theme that punctuated the diverse conversation in an exploration of how we grow our food
The return on investment for you and your kid’s education is phenomenal with this idea. The bottle planters are more than free because you help the environment when you convert them to science education tools instead of tossing them into a recycle bin or the trash.
A fashionable belief is that every school needs a dirt garden, a throwback to a bygone time of so-called “victory gardens”. What an extravagant and often wasteful idea.
The no-cost bottle planters you make (along with other SIP variants) have the potential to teach your children more about science, the scientific method, botany, biology, physics, chemistry, nutrition and the environment that any dirt garden ever will.
These bottle planters should be in every classroom in America. Every teacher (and parent) should know how to use them. Not just science teachers.
Unfortunately, few teachers know about them and their educational potential. We can thank the USDA, the National Gardening Association, our land grant institutions and botanical gardens (aka collectively as “big dirt”) for that.
The big question is whether you are motivated to do anything about it?
Growing plants in "artificial soil" in sub-irrigated planter systems (SIPs) is really a simplified form of hydroponics. Few understand that an EarthBox is really a hydroponic planter.
Look at this Flickr photo set. The design I advocate has a larger plant section and smaller reservoir than the design in the photos above.
Pothos is a more low-light tolerant, durable plant than Swedish Ivy. It is what I would use.
This experiment is meant as a fun introduction to hydroponics (or SIPs). We suggest that anybody new to hydroponics start with this experiment.
You will learn (that) what you feed a plant matters more than what the plant grows in.
Plant for all experiments: We suggest Swedish Ivy /Creeping Charlie. This plant seems to grow no matter what – we even rooted this one in a coconut pound cake ! The roots will set from the nodes. Put the cuttings in a glass of water and wait for roots to appear (aprox 2-3 weeks).
‘Shopping’ list. Empty 2 liter soda bottle, wick, fertilizer, plant, lemon or lemon juice, baking soda. Optional: pH test kit or litmus paper, straw, Lego blocks, shredded fabric, shredded paper.