Researchers to reduce food deserts using vertical farming
Researchers at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center are using vertical farming techniques to increase vegetable production in food deserts.
Food deserts are areas described as lacking access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy whole foods. In Louisiana these areas are growing concern because many of its residents lack grocery stores within convenient traveling distance to access affordable, healthy food options.
The goal is use these techniques—aeroponics, hydroponics, and aquaponics—to establish potential productivity of traditional row crops like tomatoes. Aeroponics, a soil-less process of growing plants by nourishing their suspended roots with air or mist. Hydroponics, a method of growing plants using only liquid nutrients in water, and Aquaponics, the soil-less growing of plants through the use of hydroponics and raising fish together in one system. These techniques have the ability to grow crops indoors, on balconies, and in limited spaces. According to researchers, this is especially beneficial in designated food desert areas. SU Ag Center researchers James Henson, PhD, Marlin Ford, Asebe Negatu, Ph.D. have begun growing lettuce, tomatoes, basil, bell peppers, and eggplants in the systems.