Eduponics Institute USA
About Eduponics Institute

Eduponics Institute USA is dedicated to preparation of teachers, non-profit organizations and businesses in the techniques, technology, and economics of indoor urban gardening. Our goal is to cultivate not only fresh, locally grown food but also a cadre of professionals who can produce food and teach others.

Our motivation is the inequality that has created food deserts in too many cities around the world. We believe that together, all of us can live better lives by building systems that serve everyone.

What we do

We teach hydroponic gardening to individuals, entrepreneurs or non-profit organizations interested in addressing issues of food production and equitable distribution in the context of worldwide and localized hunger, sometimes called food deserts.

Our curriculum considers diet, nutrition, food production and distribution, technology, business development, marketing and sales, all in the context of observed inequalities and how socio-economic development and status affect food distribution and well-being in a system.

Students will come away with an understanding of possible solutions to problems in contemporary food system and ways they might participate therein, as well as with some practical skills in gardening and food handling.

Our training program is "STEAM" based, the usual STEM acronym to which we add "(A)griculture" by which we mean a broad array of communication skills that build awareness of our indoor urban gardening objectives. We have worked with both certified and uncertified non-profit partners and have concentrated in programs of re-engagement of disaffected students who are restarting their education or careers and on issues affecting immigrants.

We draw upon our own long experience and that of our sponsoring organizations, which are ethnically diverse and community based. We attempt to address several objectives.

  • Academic Learning: We do this by requiring use of scientific method, technical evaluation, engineering (choosing) solutions, communication of results and applied mathematics.
  • Social Emotional Learning and Enrichment: We do this by taking a team approach to laboratory and experimental tasks and reporting by consensus.
  • College and Career Readiness (CCR): We do this by requiring students to maintain a journal of activities with regular entries pertaining to these very questions, identifying how they are progressing toward academic and career goals. These journals will be published on line as they occur and as part of a summary report.

Our basic program can fit into traditional academic calendars, or it can be configured for other time frames. Equipment must be ordered and delivered with up to six weeks lead time.

Regarding stated specific goals, the project

  • Utilizes culturally specific and responsive approaches.
  • Collects daily attendance.
  • Willing to administer an asset-based exit survey.
  • Engaged in programming for a minimum of five to fifteen hours weekly.
Standard program plan: 8 weeks, 4 days per week, 4 hours per day. Adjustable. Online participation in some activities is possible by individual arrangement, except for laboratory activities.

The local program host must provide floorspace. The minimum configuration is 600 square feet.

Recruitment

Each of our partner organizations will distribute information about the program to its constituency. We anticipate this will reach several thousand households. We will request PSA time on local radio and publicize in neighborhood news organs and on affiliated websites.

Instruction

We operate on a mastery-learning model, and each student's activity will be tracked with respect to specific skills attempted and mastered.

Language

We currently provide curricular tools in English; we anticipate having a Spanish curriculum in 2023, and we can already supply Spanish interpretation. The presence of interpreters is encouraged—to the extent that floor space allows and does not impact the experience of other learners.

Benefits

We anticipate that participants will benefit in the following ways.
  • By working in teams they will gain appreciation for skills of others.
  • By having specific objectives they will learn future orientation.
  • By having a reporting requirement they will acquire a sense of achievement.
  • By earning a Certificate of Completion.

Budget

A budget can be developed quickly for any school or other group desiring to train others in this technology.

Multi-culturalism and Origins

The project team is culturally diverse and is drawn from a professional organization that has agreed to provide teaching and support for this project at discounted rates. We apply the principles of affirmative action in the selection of staff and management. Our principals worked together for decades and have strong personal commitments to fair and open hiring. Several past projects have been based in ethnic communities affected by food deficits, both economic and cultural. As a group we have individually or collectively worked with minority youth to teach work skills, adaptive and collaborative behavior, and intercultural understanding. The team brings decades of experience dealing with youth and education.

Programs led or managed by principals have included

  • re-engagement of disaffected youth who have been subject to so-called zero-tolerance exclusion from schools and related family issues
  • young adult leadership (in English and Spanish) for secondary and community college students social responsibility awareness training related to urban food supply and distribution
  • adaptation of hydroponic growing to Asian-Pacific diet items
  • introduction of hydroponics into dietary habits of immigrant cultures
Our roots are in the Pacific Northwest. Our partners, affiliates and advisers include

Covid-19

We have and will continue to utilize applicable policies to prevent contagion, including masking and extra hygiene as required. We also note that due to the food-handling aspects of our activities, both required and voluntary, we are probably more attuned to these matters than most other projects.
 

Why we do it

We seek to expand and diversity food sources for all people, with particular emphasis on cities. We thought we should explain why.

Who eats? Growth, obsolescence, deprivation and the urban food desert
  • In the USA: the urban model since 1920 has emphasized peripheral growth due to the automobile.
  • Suburbs have absorbed most new growth, and older housing has declined and decayed.
  • Resulting price differentiation has led to concentration of the elderly, the poor and the very poor in central cities, and social segregation follows price and obsolescence.
  • As cities becomes segregated by class and race, it becomes possible to live one's life completely within a narrow and deprived sub-population or social group.
  • Geographically, this also means that the distance to commercial, educational, medical and nutritional supply points can become ever greater.
  • In the case of nutrition, this can create urban food deserts in which only the most basic, highly processed foodstuffs are available, and the missing options turn out to be fresh, locally grown, fruits and vegetables, accompanied by a litany of malnutrition, obesity and low performance, which reinforce the social segregation that caused them.
  • None of this is helped by an economic and political system focused on growth and capital accumulation. Negative stereotypes of the old, the poor and the minority are not necessary to these processes, but they do make them worse.
  • Perhaps we should ask not "who eats," but "who eats well enough?" If the answer is not "nearly everyone," then we're not doing it right.
Agriculture: Traditional and future
  • For 10,000 years humans have grown crops and brought them to central places to exchange them for goods and services, first for tools, clothing and shelter, now for ideas and stimulation. This worked really well for centuries, allowing most of us to prosper and expand our numbers. Few would choose to return to an earlier time.
  • Much current agriculture is organized on profit models that place decision making in the hands of very few and depend on extensive techniques that can harm the environment.
  • The land area of Earth is 57 sq mi or 147 sq mi total land area. Of that, 36.7 million sq km is available and suitable for agriculture. There will be no more forever.
Urbanization: Now and again, and again
  • Depending on whose estimate one chooses, somewhere between 50% and 85% of humanity now lives in urban communities.
  • Cities occupy about 3.6 million sq km (about 10%) of all land. Most cities are on former agricultural land, and most growth reduces the availability for agriculture.
  • Some time in the present century, a man and woman will be born who will deliver the ten-billionth living human. Between 85% to 95%—perhaps more—of those billions will live in cities. That's at least eight and one-half billion people, about as many as are now alive. They will be concentrated on about five percent of the earth's surface (assuming that future cities will be more like Shanghai than Los Angeles).

Conclusion: We must adopt urban vertical farming to increase food production and feed our future population. Vertical farming allows more production on less land with less environmental impact.

You can be part of the solution.

Download Full Prospectus

 
 

Our Team

A. Rees Clark, Ph.D.
Co-founder, Senior systems analyst
Dr. Rees Clark is a former geographer, city planner, university professor, and systems analyst who just cannot decide what he wants to be when he grows up—despite almost 60 years experience and experimentation. His long-time friend Michael Twiggs dragged him kicking and screaming into indoor farming, and together they have created this small effort aimed at alleviating issues of hunger and food distribution.
Michael E. Twiggs
Co-founder, Senior Gardening Guru
Michael Twiggs is a former systems administrator who returned to college after retirement to study environmental engineering and later founded a non-profit organization, Garden of Eden Urban Farming. Eduponics is an outgrowth of that beginning, with emphasis on preparing young people to address global issues of hunger and food justice.
Gavin Clark
Systems analyst, web developer
Gavin Clark brings 25 years of web development to the service of Eduponics Institute, building our website and associated technical applications in training and garden management.
Kade Eckert
Garden manager, business liaison
Kade Eckert is a recent graduate of both university and our urban indoor gardening program. Like Nanki-poo he's our Lord High Everything Else and is charged with keeping us from taking ourselves too seriously. He's currently something of a black box, but we plan to open him up and see what's inside soon.

 
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