It’s a natural thing for every human being to want: the ability to grow fresh, healthy food anywhere we call home, even if that’s in the concrete jungle of New York City. We may spend our days and nights plunking away at keyboards or talking into little plastic boxes but who doesn’t yearn to eat the freshest food in the world? Food that’s been grown by your own hands? This desire is multiplying. There is a shift in cities across America, and urban farming is something that’s taking root.
Young men and women are graduating college with ambitions of going on to be farmers. To make matters better Quartz reports that most Americans could be sustained on local foods alone, except for LA and New York.
If you are thinking even for a second about growing food on your patio, rooftop, basement, restaurant or little plot between buildings, Henry is here to help. Henry, or Henry Gordon-Smith is an urban agriculture consultant for Blue Planet. While his passion is hydroponics, or growing food on water, Henry can help you decide what, where, how and what technology you should use to maintain and enhance your urban yield.
“I like to look at the whole spectrum of urban agriculture with my clients from soil-based to hydroponics and high tech vertical farms,” Henry tells Green Prophet. “Then, based on if their goals are yield, education, or job-training, our team recommends design, technology, and operations strategies.”
Will it be cucumbers, strawberries and Swiss chard? Or potatoes, lettuce and carrots? Henry is here to help. I ran into Henry at the AlleyNYC, a co-working space I am sharing with about 30 other startups. He graciously lent contacts, made introductions and shared best practices on what’s happening in the city.
We know that Whole Foods in Brooklyn now operates a large (20,000 sq/ft hydroponics farm on its roof). And New Jersey is about to get something real big. What’s next?
Formally as part of Blue Planet a company that makes nano-bubble aerators to increase hydroponic crop yield, Henry works to grow urban farms so they can be a mainstay in New York, even if you don’t use his company’s equipment. He’s currently consulting a number of big deal projects for Sky Vegetables, an 8000 sq/foot growing vertical farm in the city, for Coop Tech, a training rooftop greenhouse at 96 and 1st. And he’s helping develop a shipping container food art project, hopefully one that will be replicated around schools in the region. You can say that Henry’s putting hydroponics on the map.
As for what’s hot in hydroponics in New York City, Henry plugs three projects:
1. Harlem Grown @134 and Lennox: “With a thriving soil-based farm and a hydroponic greenhouse surrounded by buildings on three sides, this urban farm is a one-of-kind demonstration,” says Henry.
2. EdenWorks in Brooklyn, which is a data-based company working on making aquaponics feasible. Aquaponics is hydroponics with the addition of fish to provide nutrients in a closed-loop system.
3. New York Sunworks which is developing rooftop greenhouses for schools, and which plans to have 100 hydroponics food labs in the next 5 years around NYC. They’ve built 17.
If you are looking for inspiration, Henry also produces the Agritecture blog which helps people envision future hydroponics and vertical farms. He says: “It’s both Utopia and Real World placed side by side. My hope is that it will inspire others to be bold but also act feasibly.”
Get inside some of his inspiration by reading Dr. Dickson Despommier’s The Vertical Farm if you want to learn more about the practice and economics of hydroponics, and be in touch with Henry if you want to start an urban farm in your city.
I love how Henry is creating both a business and a business climate for hydroponics and mother earth.He’s a citizen of the world, who was born in Hong Kong, but who travels as a Canadian. A man of my own heart. He’s also super friendly.