Food for Thought
- Jun. 29, 20202 min read
A new program supported by the School of Public Health is helping feed Aggie students and staff in need. With the assistance of a $60,000 grant from the Aggie Green Fund and a greenhouse from the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, TAMU Urban Farm United (TUFU) is growing 600 produce crops in vertical tower gardens to aid the 12th Can, an on-campus food pantry, as well as Meals for Veterans, a program focused on feeding young veterans. The initiative was started by cofounder Broch Saxton ’19, a recent plant and environmental soil science graduate; plant breeding master’s student Stephon Warren ’17; and cofounder Lisette Templin ’88, an instructional assistant professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology.
TUFU is a university-based urban farm in Texas. “We strive to fight urban food insecurity with nutritious and sustainable crop growing methods,” Saxton explained. Produce grown by the group, such as lettuce, snap peas, herbs and kale, is harvested and delivered day-of, providing the freshest goods.
The program utilizes vertical tower gardens and aeroponics, a method of growing plants in an air or mist environment rather than in traditional soil. “The vertical towers are sustainable in that they use 90% less water, 90% less land space and have a 30% higher crop yield,” Templin emphasized.
The organization is helping Texas A&M, a leader in agricultural education and research, pave the way for space-conscious, sustainable green farming. The group plans to cultivate more crops in the future and learn how to improve quality and yield. “We’ve had many learning experiences during this first year,” Warren added. “We want to instill the success of vertical towers and the possibilities that come with green farming at Texas A&M.”