Monday, May 10, 2010

Veggies for World Peace

A few years ago, while on a trip to Santa Fe New Mexico, a T-shirt spoke to me. No no, I swear I wasn’t partaking of the local mushrooms, and I never drink. What I mean was the slogan on the shirt read, “Renewable energy is homeland security.” I still have this shirt and despite being tattered, torn, and slightly stained, I still proudly wear it today for you see; the words on that shirt changed my life. Those simple words began a process that has evolved into what has become my life’s mission.

“It all makes such perfect sense,” I thought. If we start using the sun and the wind and the heat of the earth to produce electricity it will reduce our need for foreign oil and will also cut funding for terrorism, not to mention greatly reduce our carbon footprint. Of course, I wanted to jump right in and start a renewable energy business, but as I began to investigate I discovered that there were plenty of capable people running these businesses already and besides, I really didn’t have the necessary experience to wire a home or business for solar or wind power. Never-the-less, I continued to investigate different options and then I had a sudden flash…..why not couple vegetable gardening with renewable energy. It was the perfect vocation for me; my engineering background and my farm background merged together to ride a whole new wave of the Green Revolution.

I reasoned that with fuel prices rising, food prices would also go through the roof and it is already apparent that they are. Because of these rising prices, the cost of planting, harvesting, transporting, processing, and preserving food rises too. The answer then is to grow food locally, or even better, at home. Of course, most crops grown in a traditional garden are seasonal and I reckoned that eating is not seasonal; we need to do it all the time. So the solution then is to be able to grow the foods we eat all year long so they are available anytime we want them. If grandma can grow juicy tomatoes in the middle of a Minnesota winter, than I can grow them in the scorching Arizona Sun…..all year long, and so can anyone else. The answer to this is to grow them hydroponically.

Hydroponic gardening is a beautiful thing; there is no soil to deplete, optimum growing conditions can be maintained, crops mature quickly, and since there are no snowstorms or droughts in a hydroponic growth-chamber, and there are very few crop failures unless of course, the power goes out.. This is where my idea comes in. To have a successful hydroponic garden we must always have a dependable supply of electricity; the sun and the wind can provide just that. So now, with a good battery backup system, and a few solar panels or a small wind generator, we can have all the fresh veggies we want, all year long. Not only have we now guaranteed ourselves a steady food supply, we will have helped the environment and reduced our dependence on foreign oil. Not a bad trade-off for growing a few veggies.

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