How Hydroponic School Gardens Can Cultivate Food Justice, Year-Round

From NPR:

“…dozens of students at Brownsville Collaborative Middle School … in the past year built a high-tech, high-yield farm inside a third-floor classroom. They decided what to grow, then planted seeds and harvested dozens of pounds of produce weekly.

The vegetables never stop coming because the crops are grown hydroponically — indoors, on floor-to-ceiling shelves that hold seedlings and plants sprouting from fiber plugs stuck in trays, each fed by nutrient-enriched water and lit by LED lamps. The students provide weekly produce for their cafeteria’s salad bar and other dishes.

“…school [children..sell] some of their harvest — at a discount from market rates — to community members. It’s part of a new weekly “food box” service set up in the school’s foyer. Each of 34 customers receive an allotment of fresh produce intended to feed two people for a week. Three students, paid as interns, used digital tablets to process orders, while peers handed out free samples of a pasta salad featuring produce from the farm.

Quigley’s passion for farming stems from Teens for Food Justice, a 6-year-old nonprofit organization that has worked with community partners to train students at Brownsville Collaborative and two other schools in low-income neighborhoods in New York City to become savvy urban farmers and consumers…”

“…A shortage of healthy, affordable, accessible and reliable food options particularly affects urban residents who live below or close to the federal poverty line. And decades of discriminatory pay rates, banking practices and real-estate policies, among other factors, have prevented many black and Latino Americans from accumulating wealth, which fuels a correlation between race and income — and thus, food injustice.

But local networks of small urban farms, grassroots community organizations and partnerships with nonprofits and for-profit businesses nationwide are growing stronger. That’s changing how people in underserved neighborhoods think about their food choices and consolidating their voices and power as they demand better.”


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