How do you grow vegetables without soil, natural light, and large quantities of water? What to do with all those empty foreclosed buildings in NYC? How can city dwellers have access to fresh produce grown in their own city?
The answer is to grow aeroponic and hyrdoponic vegetables. I spoke with Richard Charles, one of the founders of EcoVeggies, a purveyor of urban grown natural food, who explained all about the vegetables of the future.
“You don’t have to have soil to grow food,” Charles said.
Hydroponics, which is a centuries old method of growing plants (think of the Babylonian hanging gardens), involves diluting nutrients into water and spraying the mixture continually on the seeds and then roots of plants. You can read more about it here.
EcoVeggies obtained a hydroponic system from Ithaca, New York and set it up in a school in Newark, New Jersey.
“We can grow pretty much whatever anybody wants. Seasonal changes won’t matter.” Charles said.
Right now, they are growing a variety of lettuces and other salad making material that Charles calls ‘green candy’.
Though this method of growing seems to be utopian, Charles points out that it is not a solution to the world’s produce needs.
“We still need tradtional farms. You can’t have an orange orchard indoors. We believe that we will have more produce consumed in urban areas grown in urban areas,” Charles said.
The idea of harvesting your own vegetables in an urban setting seems far fetched, but actually it is well within our reach according to Charles. Ideally, empty buildings can be set up to incorporate hydroponic growth stations. City people could have easy and fresh access to food right around the block at a former bank, their office or child’s school.
“Urban agriculture lowers the price of food. The carbon footprint is dramatically reduced. Abandoned buildings become reusable space,” he said, “We’re here to make money and feed people.”
Did you know that Disney World’s Epcot center has it’s own hydroponic garden? Check out this video for more information!