Hydroponic food gardening system can help feed communities
Clive Dobson said although he does not classify himself as an expert in hydroponics, he has for a long time been growing plants part-time and tested various systems by working with materials easily available.
“My project started with the structural combination of used materials to make a gravity-fed system to conserve water and recycle in a hydroponic method without having to buy equipment or use new plastics and structural material to support it.”
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in an open system without the use of soil, and the excess water is recovered and reused for other plants.
“I surveyed my environment and, working with what I could find or had, I put together a gravity-fed hydroponic system that would help me with the cost of healthy fresh food.”
He hopes this system could be used throughout, in struggling communities in particular. “We’re all in different environments, but essentially, we need food and resources to grow the food. The majority of people don’t have access to resources, so I looked at what we could find in discarded items and natural systems. I realise that many don’t have gardens, and also, we don’t have abundant water to waste into the soil. Using the gravity to feed the water back to the top gives us less wastage of the water and nutrients. I don’t use a pump, and this system requires manually taking the water at the bottom back to the top by human effort,” said Dobson.
The process would involve arranging used plastic bottles to be gravity fed, and the run-off of excess water at the top would be reused for plants placed below.
“I collect leaves that are available in the streets, and plastic buckets or tins can be sourced as items usually thrown away. These are used to create a growing medium by me in bokashi fermentation (of organic material by specialist bacteria) over a period of about a month. Bokashi also generates a fertiliser in the form of liquid,” explained Dobson.
“Conserving water and nutrients is a principle of hydroponic systems, so those savings can be interpreted as being sustainable. Rather than competing for the essentials, instead provide everyone with access to these without servitude or debt.”@TheCapeArgus