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What Would You Do With 5 Hours?

Back to finalists pageWINNER!


Fertile Cement: Growing Food in the City


Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL

Non-Profit Organization: Tallahassee Sustainability Group


Tallahassee Sustainability Group is devoted to providing food production through hydroponic and aquaponic methods in an urban setting. Our main focus is to educate lower-income citizens of Tallahassee (nearly 25% of Tallahassee is below the poverty level) on how to grow their own food and cut dependence from the hardly healthy, unsustainable agribusiness that dominates America today. This commitment contains solutions to multiple problems including poverty alleviation, education and environmental issues. We believe that urban agriculture (specifically hydroponics/aquaponics) is the future of agriculture.

These food-growing techniques depend on water, the finest ingredient on Earth. In aquaponics, fish waste provides the proper nutrients (ammonia -> nitrite -> nitrate) and in hydroponics, the water is supplied with the necessary nutrients for a plant to grow. Over the 2010 summer, we hope to set up an aquaponic system at the Second Harvest food bank where we can begin growing fish and vegetables for the benefit of the community. We would like to experiment with what fish and vegetables we grow, but our main focus is to grow Tilapia fish, lettuce, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and other hardy vegetables.

This project, however, does not have a "finish line;" we expect to continue expansion for as long as possible! A rough estimate of supplies for our Second Harvest hopes:

  • One hoop-house greenhouses: $350 Hoop house is composed of certain reusable elements such as PVC pipe (potentially even bamboo in the future), a sheet of visqueen plastic, stakes and a couple of nuts n' bolts.
  • One aquaponic system: $400 Parts include a large tub for fish, pump/bell siphon, buckets to hold the plants, clay pellet medium, seeds and fish
  • Three rain barrels: $50/each ($150) We have began this project at a local "second chance" school, where if children get removed from their normal school they go there. We have a Dutch-Bucket hydroponic system set up there and we are teaching the kids about necessary nutrition, poverty and how to operate hydroponic systems.

Project plants - click to see larger versionAttached are photos of the plants that we
have been growing as of April 1st
(They're so much bigger now!)


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