This week I got to watch the premiere episode of a new food based PBS series entitled Food Forward. This episodes focused on urban agriculture across America. People are using urban spaces to do some amazing things from roof top gardens to turning vacant lots in gardens. Here are some of the highlights of the episode:
John Mooney & His Rooftop Hydroponic Garden (New York City)
John Mooney is a restaurateur in New York City, this alone doesn't make him unique. What is unique is that he is growing food on top of a room without any soil. He started a hydroponic garden. The plants are grown in nutrient rich water using special towers that you can purchase online. The units are not for the faint of wallet as they go for $499, but you can pay in 12 month installments of $43 if you like. If you have the means I think this is a really cool way to grow food when you don't have easy access to typical growing conditions. The food grown here can be found at Bell, Book and Candle restaurant in Manhattan. Click here to learn more about his garden.
Andrew Cote & Local NYC Honey
Do you know you can buy local honey right in New York City? Andrew Cote is sending his bees to rooftops and community gardens all over the city to collect honey. You can purchase his honey at the Greenmarket in NYC at Union Square (Mondays (March until December) and Wednesdays (all year long) from 7AM until past sundown). A perfect choice if you are a New Yorkers experiencing seasonal allergies.
Sweet Water Organics - Milwaukee, WI
Sweet Water Organics, out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin are doing some cool things. They have taken an old factory and turned in into a place to raise vegetables and fish. Yes you can get fresh Tilapia, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin! They also raise perch and blue gill. The vegetables they grow include sprouts, lettuces, wheatgrass, watercress, basil, and swiss chard. They also grow oyster mushrooms. They use an aquaponics system which uses the fish waste to fertilize the plants and the plants act as a water filter for the fish. It's a great system that I hope spreads to other cities across the country.
Dig Deep Farms - Oakland, CA
Out in the Oakland area, Dig Deep Farms is taking over vacant lots and making them into gardens. They grow food for their CSA program, where people pre-order boxes of vegetables to be delivered to them. It began because one person was tired of feeding garbage food to her kids. She wanted something better.
Growing Joy Community Gardens - Detroit, MI
This last one is closer to my heart. Detroit has been a city on the decline for my entire life. The population has been shrinking and shrinking. Vacant buildings have become a major part of the city. But Edith Floyd is out to turn that land into spaces for gardens. The shrinking population caused the number of grocery stores in Detroit to dwindle. It's hard to get fresh produce for most people in the city. Through Edith Floyd and Growing Joy Community Gardens, fresh produce is being grown in Detroit and hopefully in time it will spread and bring good, healthy food to a lot of people.
Overall I think this was an outstanding first episode. It's amazing to see what people are doing in these urban centers. I highly recommend this show to anyone that cares about food. Check your local PBS listings for airtimes for this show. They plan to start streaming it from their website starting June 5th.