Students work with nonprofit group to develop and maintain hydroponic farms to fight food insecurity in New York City – CBS New York
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For many New Yorkers who face food insecurity, it is difficult to get nutritious and affordable food.
A local nonprofit is changing that with the help of students and hydroponics, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported on Friday.
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These teens grow green vegetables, from lettuce to herbs, in their New York City schools. This is called hydroponic agriculture.
“It’s not as complicated as it sounds. It’s actually quite simple, ”said Kevin Thorpe, a junior. “It’s basically about growing food without soil and just right in the water, with nutrients in that water.”
Kevin is president of the Hydroponics Club at Special Music School, where he learned how he can help address food insecurity and inequity in food deserts.
“In predominantly black or Latin urban areas, for example, they don’t have access to quality products,” he said. “They can build these urban farms in the environments and actually grow the food they need, very high quality food, in their communities.”
Kevin explained that you can grow food vertically, which is perfect for the urban space. He even has his own hydroponic system at home, which his mom loves.
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“It changed our life. We grow a lot of things at home, we grow our own herbs which we cook with, ”said Patricia Ornatowska, Kevin’s mother.
It all comes from Adolescents for food justice, a nonprofit organization that works in New York City Title I schools, training students to build and maintain indoor hydroponic farms.
“They are able to grow thousands of pounds of produce each year which are then incorporated into the school lunch and distributed by students within local communities,” said Katherine Soll, CEO and Founder of Teens for Food Justice.
The organization pivoted when the pandemic closed schools and distributed around 450 hydroponics kits to middle and high school students at home.
“This is a huge opportunity to engage the next generation in advocating for a different way of looking at food and creating a system that is truly fair, across the board,” said Soll.
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When school returns in the fall, we’re told there will be hydroponics fans at five school campuses in the city, serving 18 schools and continuing to fight food insecurity.