Backyard Farming
Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 7:07AM
Cameron Blazer in alex sparra, backyard, farm, food, food, garden, hydroponic, life

© 2010 David MandelAlex and I went to law school together. Since we graduated, we don't practice the same kind of law, so we haven't seen much of each other, but he's on twitter, and, well, you know I'm on twitter, and so we've been keeping up with each other that way for a while.

A couple of months ago Alex posted a link to a YouTube video of what looked like the work of a slightly crazy vegetable genius. Buckets linked together with pipes in long rows, water trickling out of drip hoses, and a bumper crop of vegetables growing in white, rocky sand. No details about where he filmed it or who had built it. And then I realized...Alex had built it! And? And? He has chickens!

I promptly invited myself over to check it out (with husband and son in tow, because CHICKENS), and Alex graciously accepted my invitation. And what it may lack in traditional pastoral beauty, it more than makes up for in functional, rocket-science-y cool. 

© 2010 David Mandel© 2010 David Mandel© 2010 David Mandel
© 2010 David Mandel

Back behind an unassuming brick ranch house, in an unassuming neighborhood, Alex has built an amazing hydroponic vegetable garden, which he calls a Dutch garden, out of a couple hundred dollars worth of supplies, scrap lumber, and ingenuity. This year, he is growing tomatoes, squash, zucchini, watermelon, cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, broccoli, lettuce, and herbs. And, he tells me, now that the crops are coming in, he's basically been able to live off of his crop, but for a few staples. The chickens, who were baby chicks at Easter, should start laying eggs soon. Because the buckets are up off of the ground, Alex's garden has fewer pests, and he does not use pesticide. And, although the plants are grown hydroponically, the garden's water consumption is no greater than a traditional garden.

© 2010 David Mandel

I am in awe. And I am committed to redoubling the efforts I undertook earlier this year to eating more food grown locally and in season. More to come on that front...

So, thanks, Alex, for letting us visit! The zucchini were great! And, uh, I really do love tomatoes. Just sayin'. You're Aces!

(Alex also "grows" nifty old metal things in his backyard, including this old scooter tucked away beside the old shed. Nifty, no?)

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