In my previous blog post, I talked about the anticipation of the school year and the importance of books. In this blog post, I traded the books in for some out-of-the-classroom learning about something we would rather talk about more often—food, aka food access and availability. -Shagufta Hakeem
It was a sunny day in April when my eyes came across “Ivory Tower.” Chris, a Youth Development Professional (YDP) at the Boys and Girls Club of Wake Forest was hard at work with gloves too small for his hands. Eventually, I mustered the courage to ask: “What does the tower do?”
It was an obvious question, but Chris took the time to explain the purpose behind The Ivory Tower.
Figure 1: The Tower Garden
Me: How does the tower work? What is its actual name?
Chris: The tower is known as The Tower Garden. It is sponsored by Juice + and is an aeroponic system in which plants grow in an air or mist system. There is no traditional ground/soil involved. Aeroponics is an evolved system of hydroponics gardening. I have included a link for you just in case you want to have more technical details.
Me: Cool. Can you tell me a little about how it works? What is the purpose of The Tower Garden and its ties to health literacy?
Chris: Sure. The Tower Garden is an alternative to traditional gardening. Instead of planting seeds and watering the plants the traditional way, with The Tower Garden you get to use water and air to grow plants. It is a sustainable option to traditional gardening methods.
Me: What have you planted?
Chris: Most of the plants are either cucumbers, lettuce or tomatoes. By the way you are welcome to have some, I keep asking folks to try some lettuce–but everyone looks at the Tower and then walks away.
Me: How does the Tower Garden tie into health literacy?
Chris: We run many programs and we run a specific set of programs under Healthy Lifestyles. I am trying get club members to understand the importance of growing their own food and eating healthy. Fast food may be mouth-watering and delicious, but eating healthy means making the right choices about putting the right food in our bodies.
Me: Thank you for all the information Chris.
Chris: Can you take a couple of photos?
Me: Sure, as long as The Tower Garden isn’t camera shy.
Figure 2: An Up close look of The Tower Garden
The Tower Garden takes time and effort as an alternative to traditional forms of gardening. Specifically, I wanted to focus on the subject of food security (having access to nutritious food) in the United States. According to a report in 2015 by Feeding America, “42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children.”
Food insecurity in the United States will continue to be an issue as different factors impact the availability of crops and food in society. While it is important to learn about healthy lifestyles and food choices, it is equally important to learn about access to food and ways to make food accessible for all. If you are interested in learning more about The Tower Garden, you can find more information here. I would also like to thank Chris for all his hard work and him sharing his time and information about The Tower Garden.