This past spring I took the plunge and tried to grow something. I started a whole bunch of plants in my sunroom: tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, onions, carrots, and peppers. I thought I would be lucky if I managed a single tomato.

Instead, I began a journey toward realizing just how important it is to consider our food security, or rather, how food insecurity affects us.

Why bring up food security now?

This is on top of my mind once again because of my Business Accounting courses at Cambrian. This past week I created not one, not two, but cumulative assignments related to food security. I’ll link them here once I have all my grades back.

Assignment : Food Bank case study

My first assignment was a case study related to the use of Food Banks (Grade: 100%). The study involved a business owner beginning to reconsider his company’s annual monetary and weekly surplus-food donation to the food bank. He doubted his donations were having an effect on the core problems that cause people to need that helping hand.

Ultimately, I proposed their company take the lead. I proposed they work with the Food Bank, other NGOs, and other businesses to form a plan that will pool their resources to better address the root issues.

Lush, green vegetables grow in a greenhouse during the summer.
Lush, green vegetables grow in a greenhouse during the summer.

Assignment : Rainwater Harvesting & Backyard Gardening research presentation

My second assignment was a presentation on whether rainwater harvesting would be necessary for backyard gardening given changing climate conditions, and if the people of Sudbury were willing to take up the practice.

This presentation (95%) combined a literary review, to determine the necessity & possibility of rainwater harvesting supporting backyard gardening, and a questionnaire designed to gauge the ability & interest of the people of Sudbury to engage in this practice.

Due to time and monetary restrictions, I was unable to run the real study. As a result, I used randomized results for the survey. I developed the latter part of my presentation on fictitious results, and I feel horrible about it. I’d very much like to run the actual survey someday so I can get real results. If I ever get the opportunity, I’ll revisit the presentation. Because the results of this final stage of the cumulative assignment were fictitious, I’ve decided not to include them here.

Assignment : Algae & Countertop Photobioreactors presentation

As the third assignment (Grade: 100%, for video referenced, see Bloom) needed to be on emerging technology, I took a different direction. Instead of focusing on what we have right now, like food banks and backyard gardening, I went with something a little less common: countertop photobioreactors & algae.

Algae greatly impact the future, and relating that to something that is useable by anyone was important. Spirulina, which is a specific type of algae, is extremely high in protein, iron, beta-Carotene, Omega-3, etc. These new countertop photobioreactors make it not only possible but easy to grow at home.

I chose to put my money where my mouth is on this one. I opted in to support Canopi’s Bloom. The photobioreactors won’t ship until August 2022, but I’m hoping they move up the timeline.

Green plants growing in an indoor hydroponics starter kit, with lighting displayed.
Green plants growing in an indoor hydroponics starter kit, with lighting displayed.

It’s winter and the garden is gone. What now?

Clearly, doing a few papers and presentations for class, will not improve food security. I just found it interesting that three projects that were done completely independently of each other, ended up in that direction. So what am I doing?

Well, I’m doing some indoor gardening. It’s an experiment for me, just as the outdoor garden was an experiment last spring. I have a small aerogarden growing some salad greens & hot peppers.

I’ve also cleared the space and set up a grow lamp to have some more traditional growth right next to it. These plants will need to stay under 2′ in height and either need to be self-pollinated or not require pollination. I’m thinking carrots would probably end up being too tall, so either spinach or lettuce would probably work well. It isn’t much, but if it supplement’s my family’s groceries a little bit this winter, then I can think about how to expand it in 2022.

Planning Ahead

With last year’s successful outdoor gardening, I’ve also begun planning a larger garden for next year. I’ll get into what I had & the changes that I need to make in a future post, but what I want to stress here is that it’s important to plan ahead. By knowing the kind of layout, and when I start seeding indoors in advance of the growing season, I can best prepare for the upcoming season. Some seeds need to be started as early as February in order to bear anything for the summer.

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