Garden Club and the Growhaus

by Jordan Quidachay

Hello Blog world!

It’s been some time since I’ve mustered the motivation to get on here. Quite frankly, I’m lacking motivation in many areas, mostly with school. Plainly put, I’m thoroughly drained and in need of a summer vacation.

However, a recent personal endeavor of mine has pulled my attention away from the arduous tenacity of school and work and has helped to invigorate my culinary wellbeing and my state of mind in general. The new undertaking? Garden Club. (Insert laughter and jokes here)

The club is led by Chef Deja Walker of Johnson and Wales University – Denver. Chef Walker’s passion for food sustainability and eco-consciousness shows so vibrantly when she speaks of our Earth’s environmental issues. It is beyond inspiring.  Thank you Chef Walker for inspiring me.

Michael Pollan wrote in his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.” So the Garden Club, with ambitions and aspirations placed sky-high, look to connect with food in its truest and most beautiful form in hopes to inspire and inform others that there is in fact a difference between food and food-like substances rendering us into processed corn in walking form and that our relationship with food is more important than usually conceived.

Continuing on, my first venture with the modest Garden Club was a trip to the Growhaus, an indoor farm of sorts and educational center. According to their website, they pride themselves on environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Their mission: to grow food in a sustainable fashion while educating and providing healthy food in a community not fond of such things. A beautiful thing indeed.

Growhaus grows crops in two different fashions in that of aquaponics and hydroponics. Aquaponics is the concept of using aquaculture in conjunction with hydroponics. In other words, fish poop in water, pooped-in water is then used to water and nourish plants. No soil is used and water is filtered and recycled, thus water usage, compared to that of conventional farming, is significantly lower. Crop growth is up to four times quicker than conventional farming, plants are naturally fertilized, no pesticides are used and all this can be achieved in the most urban of settings. However, the fish aren’t in their natural habitats and last time I checked, being in effluent water isn’t exactly the greatest thing. And there’s always that issue of a product produced by a happy species compared to an over-stressed counterpart (battery farming in poultry/egg production for example). So are the fish really happy in this environment? Fish weren’t made to grow plants so why make them machines to do so? And if aquaponics suddenly became the planet’s latest rage? Fish populations would be greatly disturbed and that really isn’t the idea of sustainability. And this claim isn’t too farfetched, the Orange Roughy, Bluefin Tuna, Beluga Sturgeon and many other fish species have almost all been completely decimated from our oceans because of overfishing. Although an entirely different issue, the premise remains the same.

In comparison, hydroponics is the method of growing plants using water enriched with minerals and nutrients in an entirely controlled environment. Zero soil is used making it ideal for urban farming. Water usage is also drastically cut since the water remains in the system and is recycled and pesticides are eliminated as well. Theoretically, hydroponics should create a stable and higher crop yields, but so many factors can greatly disrupt the crops; disease outbreak, power outages disrupting controlled environment, etc. There is also the notion that the supplemented nutrients come nowhere close to comprehending the complexity of nature’s soil. Lastly, hydroponic farming takes all the fun out of conventional farming, getting your hands dirty in the most therapeutic way underneath the rays of the sun and the pure satisfaction of eating the crops you harvest after a long days work.

At any rate, Growhaus is doing an amazing thing in connecting a community through food and supplying a community with healthy food and food education. While certain aspects of our food culture are spiraling out of control, Growhaus is taking steps in the right direction in aiming to slow the destruction. Now whether hydroponics and aquaponics are truly sustainable and just is entirely up to you.

Here are some pics from the trip!

Mural on outside wall, pretty cool.

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The aquaponics system

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ImageThe fishies

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Here’s the hyrdoponics farm

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We got to witness the first harvest over at the Growhaus

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and I found this sign below their daily duties board..very true indeed

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In Veritate Et Caritate

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