For saving space and soil, this method also has several
other benefits, including no soil-borne diseases, no
weeds to pull and no soil to till, run-of-the-mill side
benefits of soil-less gardening.

Hydroponics for Food Bank

Food Bank Launches Hydroponics Garden
by: Carl Orth

NEW PORT RICHEY - With more and more people struggling to make ends meet, the Volunteer Way food bank has started a hydroponics garden to grow its own produce.

About 150 people a day are seeking free food from the food bank at 7820 Congress St., according to Martha O'Brien, assistant CEO of Volunteer Way.

The garden can yield tomatoes and lettuce year round to give to needy folks, O'Brien said. Later, volunteers will grow their own herbs and spices. The first harvest might be ready within a couple of months.

Hydroponic methods allow the food bank to pack 1,800 plants into a very compact space. "That's the beauty of them," O'Brien said about the stackable pots. The pilot garden behind the food bank warehouse was set up within the past week.

An irrigation system squirts water into the pot on top which trickles down to the other, Styrofoam pots.
"We'll figure out what plants grow better," O'Brien said about the small, test plot.

By next year, Volunteer Way hopes to relocate and enlarge the garden on a separate site, O'Brien explained. Crews are clearing the land now on 6.8 acres on the west side of Congress Street north of Pine Hill Road. The bigger, hydroponics garden might expand to 1 or 2 acres, O'Brien said.

Before that can happen, though, Volunteer Way hopes to get some grants to help pay expenses for the garden. The small, test plot cost close to $8,000 total to set up, O'Brien said.

In the meantime, food bank officials are seeking permission to expand the warehouse on the existing site, filling the space where the test garden now stands.

People who wish to volunteer their time or to donate can call the Volunteer Way office at 727-815-0433. For more information, go online at


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