Updated: Mar 13, 2020
Why is urban farming on the rise? Has it become easier for city dwellers? Are they wanting to know the origins of what they’re eating? What’s the impetus for this growth?
There's an awareness that is on the rise. The general public wants to know what they are putting in their body and that can only be a positive thing, right? Urban farming is on the rise; places such as farmer's markets are advocates for fresh produce. There is also more local food sourcing at retail stores. Hydroponic stores are also on the rise because of this. People are concerned with what and who is making their food. The hydroponic indoor growers are pioneers attempting to bring a great cause into the light, which is fresh greens for all. Thus, urban farming has seen its evolution, there has been advances in lighting, nutrients and education. Everyone should be eating healthy and it's our mission to make produce more accessible to the world!
How are they growing food? As many city dwellers live in apartments, many have to go vertical. What are you noticing in terms of people getting creative with their growing?
Hydroponics is the most common form of indoor growing, but i have been on many rooftops and vacant lots that use soil. I notice people automating their home grow systems using a wireless technology called Z wave. Personally, a few years ago, we built several shelves into our window sill that has good southern exposure, and we grew microgreens and edible flowers.
What are they growing? Is it produce that’s easy or are they adventurous? How have farmers markets helped (or have they at all)?
They are growing lettuce, basil, microgreens and other leafy greens, these varieties of plants are relatively easy to grow indoors. Yes farmer markets have been supportive to all the indoor hydroponic growers.
What are some urban gardening projects that you’re aware of, especially those that put sustainability and flavor at the forefront?
Kipp One Academy, we helped get this project up and going and now its hosting six graders learn about botany, chemistry and marketing. Teaching students hydroponic growing on plant based microgreens pad and feeding themselves at home and also selling to nearby restaurants.
Garfield Produce is another urban microgreens farm on the west side of Chicago, which promotes good food and good jobs. They help people from the neighborhood, people with a history of incarcerations, and teach them how to grow and harvest. Last fall they engaged our team to help build out their facility and build a cool work culture. We're really excited for this project, it combines our two passions - education and growing food locally.
What are some of the benefits of urban farming?
Water conservation is a very big plus because the water is recycled within systems. That's a huge plus! Urban farming is also creating local jobs and making Chicago a cleaner, friendlier city to live. Some of the kids we mentored, came from the streets and were up to no good. Fast forward a few years later. They now have good paying jobs, their own apartments-all because of indoor hydroponics and outdoor urban farming. Additionally, growing your own food leads to much healthier eating habits which is sorely needed in our “food deserts”.
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