World Hunger: What stays good for months, replicates quickly and is great for you? Pumpkins.
"We really believe that this will end world hunger across the world,” says William Layton.
Andrew Assimos, valued researcher and 90+ year survivor of life and I were sceptics yet think about an easy, low-cost do-it-yourself Green method of growing natural, large food in a small area.
And it's not just pumpkins yet that is where the idea was planted. At his test facility in an abandoned greenhouse in Lynchburg, Virginia, he had kept on harvesting ripe strawberries clear through the polar vortexes of early 2014. He says the newfangled system he and his partners had built to grow winter strawberries would work with any other fruit or vegetable, too, 365 days a year, with very little water or power and no fertilizers or chemicals at all.
His special trick? Training the vines along a series of compost-filled fabric tubes. He figured he’d try out the method with other vegetables, and before long, was hawking a consumer version through his company, Blue Ridge Organics. One of the really exciting bits for Layton was the fact that a few compost tubes plopped down pretty much anywhere amounted to an instant garden, if the weather was amenable. Growers of giant pumpkins, though, aren’t used to playing by the rules that the world generally sets for horticulture; Layton wasn’t done yet. With the help of a few partners, he set up shop in the abandoned greenhouse to figure out if he could sideline that pesky weather concern and stretch the growing season into a repeating, year-round cycle.
He built a structure to hold some compost tubes. He put in a drip irrigation system capable of recycling any nutrient-loaded water that drains out of the compost. He rigged up some magnetic induction lighting, and when the weather got cool, set up some infrared heaters for supplemental heat in the greenhouse.
Layton says a patent is pending on what he’s calling the BroGro System, the “Bro” bit being a nod to Blue Ridge Organics. He now has higher hopes than just making some money on the idea. He’s trying to deploy the BroGro in the fight against global hunger. During the first week of August, Layton was in Washington, D.C., for the U.S.-African leaders summit, pitching BroGro to a delegation from an African country that he declines to name at the moment (he is optimistic this nation will be putting in orders soon.) Ever since the dead-of-winter strawberry harvest, Layton’s been at full-tilt: arranging distribution, getting his new business entity up and running, going a million miles an hour. “I’m holding onto the train and trying to keep up with it,” he says.
Commercial BroGro sales will be a custom, turnkey deal, Layton says. Every system includes the basics: growing tables, the “growing medium” (a proprietary derivation of his Blue Ridge Organics’ super compost), a lighting system and a recirculating drip irrigation system. Beyond that, Layton and company intend to deliver whatever else a client needs to make their on-demand farm ready to bloom — greenhouses, solar panels for electricity, heating systems, etc.
Later this fall, BroGro will also debut to the general public in variously sized DIY units — 4’x8′, 4’x4′, 2’x4′ — that can form the building blocks of an instant, year-round, low-input garden. These will likely retail for around $1,000 to about $6,000, depending on the size.
This is the system and the video shows how this may help grow and feed various types of natural foods!
Cute video of moving the 2,000 pound pumpkin!
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