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Hydroponically yours....

February 10, 2009 11:32 AM 2/10/09

So I posted my hydroponics re-juvination plan to the White House website but haven’t heard anything. Frankly I don’t expect to hear anything but it would be nice if I knew they were at least listening.

I brushed by the plan in a previous post so I’ll step-by-step it here.

1) Purchase and empty old local manufacturing centers that have gone bust but pass EPA cleanup inspection.

2) Install large-scale hydroponic systems in them. Nothing “clean room” style but just good simple production tanks/pipes with standard plant bulbs.

3) Grow local fruits and vegetables all year around.

4) Sell those local fruits and vegetables at local stores that will accept them or local markets.

5) Invest the money made into building more hydroponic centers and adding off-the-grid technologies for powering the centers.

Now this plan does several things.

1) Local labor is used to build and maintain those plants.

2) The fact that they are local means the transport for the food uses less fuel. This causes:

        a) The food to be cheaper.
        b) The food to be fresher.
        c) More local transport jobs.

3) The hydroponically grown food is healthier.

4) The growing cycle is divorced from the weather. This causes:

        a) The food to be available all year around.
        b) The food to be less expensive all year around.

5) Since people can’t live without food it’s the one thing they _have_ to spend money on. The money spent for food from these centers would go back into the local economies in the form of jobs and suppliers.

6) Since these plants would be fairly cheap to build/maintian then eventually the profits will exceed the costs of the system and money would be available to put into something else. Especially if making them off-the-grid sustainable is made a focus.

7) The more our food supplies are off the grid the more divorced they are from our current infrastructure. This will help stabilize at least the food side of things in our economy/culture.

BTW this idea is free for anybody. If you want to use it or have the money/time/will to set one of these centers up then more power to you.

We need all the hearts, minds, and hands we can get! ^_^

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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 10th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
mmm... sounds great. I saw a hydroponic set up at Disneyworld many years ago, and thought it was really neat. Of course, theirs was mainly for display and the amount of produce it supplied was minimal.

I wonder if there would be a way of incorporating a hydroponic system with a waste reclamation system-- growing only non-edible items such as flowers and trees, perhaps?
Feb. 10th, 2009 08:26 pm (UTC)
That last idea you posed is called Greywater Treatment and usually involves things like banana plants and other things. Google for "earthship greywater treatment" and you should get some good hits.

But this idea is so simple most people can do it and other than space it doesn't rely on a lot of cash to get started. Heck these are in basic what those trendy little Aerogarden devices are all about. Those are just small hydroponics setups.
Feb. 10th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
You can even use the same principle for blackwater.. you run it through a limestone gravel bed and then a reed bed before feeding it into the food production system.
Feb. 10th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
The problem with blackwater is that it requires a large amount of space for the reed beds simply because of how much you have to cleanse out of it.
Feb. 10th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
I don't recall where it is, but one city uses a similar system- part way along (after the settling/aeration tanks, etc.) it becomes a wildlife preserve with waterfowl in the reeds, and further than that it becomes a public park, with the clean water flowing through the center. It was expensive to set up, but less expensive than the standard system to maintain.
Feb. 10th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
My brother got one of those Aerogardens. I thought the idea was good, but it was not economical on that scale. About on a par with a Chiapet herb 'garden'.

I don't know why so few US companies/local gov. are interested in reusing and adapting existing buildings, but demolition is much more popular than repurposing.
Feb. 10th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
The aerogardens are overpriced for that they do. Seriously overpriced.

As for re-purposing versus demolition - it's a cultural thing I think that grew into a "habit". I won't debate that some buildings need to be knocked down but quite a number could easily be re-used. At the very least you could put solar on them and batteries in them and make them backup grid power for small areas.
Feb. 10th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
Hmm, you know it wouldn't be that expensive, possibly less so than a traditional 'grown-in-the-dirt' farm would be... it might well be a do-able thing for a farming collective or co-op for homeless people/disadvantaged folks. Also one could reuse materials, like using milk crates for holding the plants, keeping the costs down.

It certainly would be an interesting re-use for a disused factory, like a food processing or diary factory for a start [saving on clean-up].

Come to think of it. If the systems were designed on a modular format, then one could scale the hydroponic systems depending on the available space and/or demand.

Feb. 10th, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
No...it wouldn't be that expensive...

It'd be a shoe-in for the government to create it and a lightweight investment for a decent person of investing capability.

And yes modular would be the way to go in theory but custom for each building allows for savings on pump costs, etc. So it works out either way.
Feb. 11th, 2009 04:39 am (UTC)
The Netherlands is famous for their hydroponic produce - everyone has seen those "vine-ripened tomatoes from Holland" and hydroponic lettuce and stuff, not to mention flowers (and I have to smile when I think of the original use of hydroponic agri-technology). Do they use old industrial buildings, or are their hydroponic farms purpose-built?
Feb. 18th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)
Great ideas! We have something similar on a small scale here near Ithaca NY, and it's run by Challenges Industry, which puts "other abled" folks to work. It's call Finger Lakes Fresh: http://fingerlakesfresh.com/newsite/

These could be warmed by local grasses turned into heating pellets, or even gasification/sterling engines (I just heard someone talk about how these are 98% efficient, but don't know details). This touches on some of it: http://www.indusscitech.net/F.C.Kohli.htm

So many good ideas, and finally an administration that might actually listen!
Feb. 18th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
We can but hope! :-)

Though I think siliconshaman is correct and this idea would do better as a 501c objective if I could find funding to start it up.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )



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