How are we going to feed 9 billion people? With population growth expected to peak between 9 & 11 billion people, the agriculture sector is due for a New Green Revolution. This New Green Revolution needs to combine the technological advances we have seen developed in the 21st century with a return to old, traditional, smaller scale methods of growing food. Small neighbourhood food cooperatives are a method to manage, grow and harvest food grown by individual families. When families work together they can plan their individual gardens so that they focus their attention on growing 3 - 4 crops efficiently and other families are responsible for growing a variety of other crops. The harvest is then done collaboratively with the families that are a part of the coop and shared amongst the families.
Food for Thought - Sustainable Urban Farming is a learning experience / think tank where staff and students collaborate to learn how to grow food using a variety of methods with a focus on local food production that can be done 365 days a year. Just like the small neighbourhood food cooperatives, this program is designed to collaborate with like-minded staff and students around the world to share best practices and experiment with new, innovative ways of growing food. In the 7 years since Food for Thought - Sustainable Urban Farming began, we have created a 50 x 50 vegetable garden in the front of the school, invested in a season extending 9 x 12 greenhouse that has been converted into an off-grid aquaponic unit. Recently we have been experimenting with indoor hydroponics having a healthy collection of AeroGardens and recent investments in the OGarden and Nurtritower technologies. This year we started an indoor aquaponics grow lab using a 200 gallon stock tank and adapting a DIY grow tower and a NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) system. All of this has allowed the local community to benefit from the harvest of fresh, local grown produce.
The plan is to make our experiences and research something we can share with other schools where we can collaborate on a variety of future projects and research best practices. Using a STEM framework participants will work collaboratively within their class and remotely with other participating classes to design, build a prototype and test an indoor grow method. The idea is that schools offer a perfect indoor environment for students to learn and perfect methods of growing food that can then be scaled up to meet the demands for more local, fresh food.