Turning Windows into Farms

Big window farm at Eyebeam, July 2009. Photo by Lindsey Castillo.

I’m a city girl. I grew up in a place that was pretty much a concrete jungle. And until I was 21, the only farms I’d seen were those on my computer screen when I played Sim Farm. That probably explains why I stared in wide-eyed wonder as Sam drove me around the vast farmlands of Wisconsin. I was so excited that the barns, silos and haystacks looked just like the images painted in my mind by the virtual game!

Gabriel Willow's Window Farm, July 2009. Photo by Gabriel Willow.

When I was working on the documentary for Project Green Heals, where we followed 98 high school students on their journeys to learn about urban agriculture, I learned about the great benefits of having food grown close-by. Food grown locally:

  • doesn’t have to be transported over hundreds of miles, so you save on gas and energy.
  • gets to you faster, so it hasn’t lost as many nutrients.
  • has no need for harmful chemical preservatives to keep them looking good longer.

Just like Singapore though, Chicago is a bustling city where buildings fill almost every square foot of the area. Without the huge plots of land, many believe it’s impossible to grow our own food. Fortunately, there are groups out there working to prove that it can be done. Uncommon Ground has turned one of Chicago’s many flat roofs into the country’s first organic rooftop farm.

Gabriel Willow's Window Farm, July 2009. Photo by Gabriel Willow.

The Jane Addams Hull House turned a small plot of land right in the middle of the city into an urban farm, growing enough food to run its soup kitchen to feed the hungry.

But what if you don’t own a restaurant or you’re not part of a large organization? What can we, as regular individuals, do about it?

Window Farms could be the answer. Imagine being able to grow food, right in your own apartment window.

Window Farms are vertical, hydroponic, modular, low-energy, high-yield edible window gardens built using low-impact or recycled local materials.

Learn in less than 3 mintues what it’s all about:

Made from recycled bottles, decorative and food bearing. I find that pretty darn cool. I’d definitely love to give growing my own food a shot in my future home. Has your family ever been into home gardening? What are your thoughts on the Window Farms?

Project Green HEALS part I…

I spent this summer following 98 Chicago Public School students from 25 different high schools as they embarked on an eye-opening program. Join Conscious Planet Media as we show you how the students engaged in both classroom and hands-on learning, and became catalysts to the powerful green movement.

Project Green HEALS part I shows you a quick overview of their journey. I shot and edited this as part of my work for Conscious Planet Media.

2nd largest parade in the US!

Just this past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to be a part of the largest African-American parade and the 2nd largest parade in the US! The Bud Billiken Parade is into it’s 80th year this summer and it’s a great opportunity for underprivileged children to showcase their talents & be in the limelight. It’s also been a long-standing tradition to celebrate the summer school holidays coming to an end and to gear kids up for the start of a brand new school year.

I was there with a HVX200 in hand to film the participants of Project Green Heals Chicago making their march down the road together with the Chicago Public Schools contingent. We were there loud and proud to spread the message of going green to the 1.5 million people who came out to watch the parade and show their support! Mayor Daley was on board the float that spearheaded the entire parade of over 75,000 participants.

It was also my first time participating in a major African-American event and it was truly great getting to learn more about the culture. I loved how families just lined the street for what seemed to be 15 to 20 blocks, armed with picnic baskets, lawn chairs, bbq grills and the company of their loved ones. Lotsa ice-cream/refreshment sellers people selling Michael Jackson/Barack Obama souvenirs took the chance to come out as well. I could really feel the spirit and the soul of the event watching students put their hearts into their performances. With so many marching bands, dance groups, socially conscious organizations and colorful floats out, it was wonderful entertainment for everyone along Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Drive that day. :)

I love how there’re such events to empower the youth. I’m sure it was a breath of fresh air for the residents in the south side of Chicago. I’ve only been down south a handful of times, so I took the chance to slow down & take in the sights around me. While the residential buildings were beautiful, it’s hard to imagine what life must be like living there with only 1 bus service serving the neighborhood and the nearby grocery store looking rather run down. Wish i had the chance to stay a little longer to see what life’s like without the parade, to take a moment to talk to people and do some reflection. Either way, it was a great chance for me to step outside of the Northwestern/Evanston bubble and i’m certain it won’t be my last. :)