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'Know where your food is coming from': N.S. group grows produce in shipping container

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Inside a converted shipping container in Cherry Brook, N.S., a hydroponic garden is growing fresh produce and teaching young people about horticulture.

Joshua Williams, who grew up in a farming family, says he jumped at the chance to be at the helm of something new.

“I’ve always heard the stories from like my mom and my aunts and uncles on the farm,” said Williams. “To see it this way, like to be doing it in a different way, is interesting to me. Because I always wanted to tap into that side of things.”

It might not look high-tech on the outside, but inside the Akoma Hydroponic Garden’s shipping container is what some are calling the future face of agriculture.

Inside are rows upon rows of fresh basil, lettuce and flowers – all grown without soil.

Also called vertical gardening, the process is somewhat self-explanatory. Produce planted in lines stretching from floor to ceiling are fed water containing nutrients. Once each plant has its fill, the water drips into a trough and is filtered and recycled.

Rows of string lights hung from the ceiling replicate the sun – allowing plants to grow every day of the year.

“The amazing thing is the violas that we have. We could harvest those today, come back tomorrow and they would be bloomed to as many as there was [before],” said Williams.

But the project is not just about business.

The vice president of Akoma Holdings Inc., the group that runs the garden, says it gives members in the Black community an opportunity to learn something new.

“Often, what we see is the other side of what our Black youths are doing,” said Jason Jackson. “This is a positive story, and we need to highlight these stories.”

The group sells its harvest to a local hotel, and plans to open a market in the future.

“People don’t realize how important it is to know where your food is coming from,” said Williams.

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