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TALKING WITH: S.E.E.D.S. Global’s Alex Delgado

One of many reasons to love urban agriculture: it can have an incredible transformative power on abandoned, rundown spaces. So we loved hearing about S.E.E.D.S. Global‘s Alex Delgado and Todd Mitchell, who are trying to turn an abandoned, boarded-up apartment complex into “an urban farming initiative in the middle of some of Atlanta’s worst blight.” From their profile in Creative Loafing:

The idea came to them after a call from The Hunger Games.

Well, to be accurate, the movie crew contacted a local hydroponic store, which connected it with Delgado and Mitchell. The crew had more than 35 leftover hydroponic towers from The Hunger Games production in Atlanta worth approximately $100,000 total. Delgado and Mitchell gladly accepted the donated towers.

For the last few months, Delgado, Mitchell, and the complex’s residents have been farming more than 150 hydroponic trays filled with tiny sprouts of basil, Swiss chard, and sage, among other herbs and greens. It’s all part of S.E.E.D.S. Global’s effort to create nutritional resources in a food desert.

And they’ve got bigger plans:

The S.E.E.D.S. Global team plans to renovate the adjacent complex’s buildings to accommodate rooftop greenhouses. Delgado and Mitchell intend to gut the buildings’ interiors to create community spaces and, once solar power is added, install the donated hydroponic towers. An additional 20,000-square-foot greenhouse is proposed for the rear of the property. At least 10 upper-level former apartments facing the street would be converted into live-work units. A mural and terraces of community gardens would greet passersby. Shipping containers would be used as housing and as a security fence near the rear of the property, which backs up to active railroad tracks.

Click here to contribute to their Indiegogo campaign, which will be matched by the Home Depot Foundation up to $2,500. And click through to read a short interview with Delgado about their plans for S.E.E.D.S. Global.

Before “The Hunger Games” brought these hydroponic towers into your lap, had you thought about agriculture as a business? Before the Hunger Games donation, Todd and I met on another deal back in September 2013 and he came up with an idea of putting a farm in one of our abandoned apartment complexes.  It was at that point that we began to look at the potential of converting the 3 acre complex into an aquaponic farm. We created a small version of an aquaponic system and we realized how time consuming it was. We then did more research into hydroponics and created a small system. We realized that hydroponics was easier to maintain and less costly. Then towards the end of December 2013 Atlantis Hydroponics contacted us in reference to the Hunger games system that they helped put together. We received the Hydroponic system in January 2014. We have since put together a prototype of the system that allows demonstrates what we can grow and in conclusion we were able to grow 150 different types of greens per tower in 30-45 days. We have the potential to grow 35 more towers with the system that was donated that will allow us to grow approximately 5,400 plants every 30-45 days.

Has anything about this new endeavor surprised you? How badly the community wants a project like the one we are proposing in this neighborhood. Not only do they want the fresh vegetables and fruits but they also want the planned community kitchen, community space, community garden plots etc. It also surprised me how knowledgeable some of the community members are when it comes to gardening and agriculture. Most of them say they had gardens at home when they were growing up but somehow that ended. One of the problems in this neighborhood is the medical problems whether its high blood pressure or diabetes. The tenants know that fresh and organic vegetables and fruits can help minimize or eliminate those medical issues but don’t have the access to these fresh produce so they have no choice but to get whatever is packaged at the “corner store”.

What would success look like for S.E.E.D.S. Global?
Our mission is to inspire and empower communities by providing access to education, stable housing, and healthy lifestyles. Success would be SEEDS Global providing this community with fresh local and organic produce year round. Our vision is one community, one farm, one house and one garden for all.

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