Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Plastic EarthBox Helps Bring Local Produce to Newark and the World

Consider, if you will, a unique plastic box with a plastic cover that, when applied to gardening, more than doubles the yield of a conventional garden – and uses half the fertilizer and 40 percent less water. Plus, the containers (29 inches long, 13.5 inches wide and 11 inches tall) are portable, reusable and recyclable.

The box is called EarthBox – a patented gardening system made by Laminations, Inc., a manufacturer of compression molded and extruded polyolefin sheet and slab. According to EarthBox inventor Blake Whisenant, his gardening system provides the best possible growing environment because it allows “the fertilizer to remain on top of the soil and the water comes from the bottom.” The company’s press release and numerous newspaper articles cite the EarthBox's patented gradient technology, which enables roots to absorb optimal amounts of nutrients at any given time, and plants to consume only what they need to stay healthy. The plastic cover reduces the water evaporation rate and returns condensed water vapor to the potting mix. The boxes come as kits that include potting mix, fertilizer and dolomite.

Tobago is using EarthBoxes as a key component of  the government's effort to produce more and better produce. The Growing Connection, a project developed by the United Nations, uses EarthBoxes in its campaign to introduce low-cost, sustainable food growing innovations around the world.

John Taylor and Lorraine Gibbons of  Brick City Urban Farms have used EarthBoxes to turn a vacant quarter-acre lot in downtown Newark, NJ into a thriving farm, bringing fresh local produce to the city’s residents and restaurants, while creating green jobs and  educational opportunities. Watch this video.

Taylor started the farm with a team of volunteers. He was told by the neighborhood cultural organization that loaned him the land that the soil probably was too toxic to plant in. But using EartBoxes provides a solution to the problem of soil contamination in urban areas. Newark's urban farming initiative has been quite a hit.

“My burning question was could we effectively build a real working farm within the boundaries of the City of Newark,” says Taylor on the farm web site. “By converting abandoned, undersized, or unwanted lots of land into a series of organized gardens, Brick City Urban Farms will address the nutritional, environmental and food security issues that currently plague urban dwellers.”

Currently, the farm grows tomatoes, corn, peppers, squash, cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce, beans, pumpkins, okra, basil, oregano and parsley. Originally organized as a non profit, Brick City Urban Farms later reorganized as a for profit because, says Gibbons, “we think that it is important to prove that we can be sustainable as a for profit venture.”

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One Response to “Plastic EarthBox Helps Bring Local Produce to Newark and the World”

  1. I was reading your post and just wanted to see if you’ve heard of the Grow Box? I’ve tried it and it’s actually a bit better and a whole lot less expensive! They hold about a gallon and a half more water. Check it out at http://www.agardenpatch.com
    Happy Gardening!