If you’re thinking of growing vegetables year-round, even in the winter, hydroponic gardening is a good option.
In fact, the (CDSC), a not for profit organization in Bedford Stuyvesant, has its own indoor 250 square foot hydroponic garden and uses its vegetables to give out as part of their food pantry program.
Not only is it their viable farming food source after October when their partnering local farm is not able, it has also brought an opportunity to bring food and education about indoor gardening.
Hydroponics by definition is the “Cultivation of plants in nutrient solution rather than soil”. Instead of planting seeds in soil, there is a balance of water and nutrients used to grow vegetables. The basic elements needed are “air, water source, electricity, and seeds and nutrients”, according to Mireille Massac from CDSC, who hoped the garden would help “combat hunger in the community”.
Because it is indoors and does not rely on soil or generally outdoor sunlight but an indoor light source, you can grow vegetables any time of the year, regardless of weather or season.
The CDSC started building their hydroponic vegetable garden some time in January with technical assistance from Lee Mendel, a local farmer, as well as dedicated students and community volunteers who were able “to learn the process from the ground up”, Massac says.
Their first harvest was in May and yielded close to 90-100 heads of lettuce for about 75-80 people to get a variety of things from the garden.
As part of their pantry, the hydroponic garden currently offers collard greens, several types of lettuce and bok choy. Mendel, who helped to build the farm, also teaches indoor hydroponic classes at the CDSC. So if you’re looking to learn how to grow vegetables indoors in buckets, this is a great resource.
“At first you’re intimidated and skeptical because you’re accustomed to soil but then you realize it is so easy. You do have to do some work to make sure the water level is correct, nutrients are the right balance but it’s not difficult and then you see the end result. People get so excited about it,” Massac remarked.
The vegetables they grow are also used for cooking demos used to teach about healthy eating.
The organization is looking for ways to add more space and to expand, so getting more more funding is even more crucial than ever to sustain the farm.
If you’re interested in learning more about their garden or taking classes about indoor hydroponic gardening, you can contact the CDSC or visit the garden in person.