Hydroponic Gardeners Can Ease National, World Hunger with Food and Funds
When gardeners roll up their sleeves, great things happen. Not just in the way of those orderly rows of sugar snap peas, bell peppers, and to-die-for tomatoes. It's really much more than that. National initiatives such as Plant a Row for the Hungry and Hydro for Hunger enable gardeners to make a significant, collective contribution to the fight against hunger worldwide. As you'll see, a little effort really can go a long way.
Plant a Row for the Hungry
Case in point, gardeners across the U.S. have raised more than three million pounds of fresh produce to date for Plant a Row for the Hungry, a national program that began in 1995 to benefit hunger relief agencies. Sponsored by the Garden Writers Association and HGTV, the national Plant a Row for the Hungry initiative works to encourage traditional gardeners everywhere to plant extra garden rows and donate the additional produce generated to their local Plant a Row campaigns. Indoor gardeners-especially those with space-saving hydroponics systems-can do likewise.
Hydro for Hunger
Plenty of hydroponic gardeners have already had a hand in the fight against hunger on a global scale. Organized in 2002 by leaders in the hydroponics industry, the Hydro for Hunger initiative is a non-profit, collaborative program designed to generate financial aid from donations and a portion of the proceeds from the sales of officially designated "Hydro for Hunger" products.
In its first year, Hydro for Hunger raised nearly $6000 to support the work of The Institute for Simplified Hydroponics (ISH), an organization which provides people in developing countries with the knowledge and tools to become self-sufficient through simple, small-scale hydroponic food production techniques.
ISH Executive Director Peggy Bradley explained, "Right now, natural resources are being depleted and stretched to the limit on many areas of the earth. In many countries the governments and communities are starting to see their natural resources depleted and feel powerless to do anything about it. The root of this problem-the very worst of the environmental problems-is unsustainable soil-based agriculture."
Since 2001, the focus of the ISH has been to provide an international training center in south central Mexico , and the non-profit has just completed its first year of operation of the Mexico Institute for Simplified Hydroponics.
�"In this first year of operation we trained 120 people in how to build and operate their own simple hydroponic gardens, and we estimate that about half of these people have built gardens," Bradley said. Some of the trainees included teachers for secondary schools and for Indian boarding schools in the state of Puebla.
Bradley added, "All through this process we make sure the people are learning how to help themselves. They have to build the growers, water the plants, and produce the food themselves. This is a way to really help people, to provide a long-term solution to hunger and poverty."
This year, Hydro for Hunger hopes to generate contributions in excess of $20,000 to benefit the ISH and similar agencies. Hydroponic gardeners wishing to help can look for the "Hydro for Hunger" sticker on products such as the Sunleaves Planter of Ease Deluxe and supplies such as General Hydroponics Floralicious Gro and purchase these products. Corporate sponsorship spots are also available.