Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Growing Connection

This is a project that originated with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Robert Patterson runs the program from the Washington, DC office of the FAO. There are two aspects of the program: growing fresh food (leafy vegetables, corn, tomatoes, green beans, hot peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, many herbs and spices, scores of other edible plants) and linking users to the Internet.

The term “growing connection” has a deliberate double entendre. The plants are grown in Earth Boxes (highly resilient and rugged plastic) using local filler (peat moss, ground coconut shells, sand, etc.). They are designed to minimize water evaporation and generally use only 20% of the water that would normally be required to produce the same quantity of food. Where it is desired, these boxes can be mechanically harvested.

The other side of this equation is connection to the Internet so that the children who learn to use Earth Boxes to grow food can also harvest the information content of the Internet and share experiences online with other children around the world who are doing the same thing. Google has 300 Earth Boxes deployed on its Mountain View, California campus. As will be seen from the web references below, the operation is already world-wide in scope.

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