Driven by the desire to create equitable food systems for underserved communities, a public health major, Ekua Hudson, CAS/BA ’24, is teaching herself how to design and build sustainable hydroponic farms to help feed Washingtonians.
Ekua Hudson walks into a classroom at H.D. Woodson High School in Northeast DC every Wednesday— not as a student, but as a teacher.
The public health major leads a “Frankenstein course” about food systems, food justice, and computer coding. The subjects may seem like an odd stew, but that’s Hudson’s recipe for helping to nourish the one in six children across the District who don’t have enough to eat, according to Feeding America.
Underscoring AU’s commitment to working with Washington, Hudson, CAS/BA ’24 aims to create sustainable hydroponic farming kits for DC Public Schools. Rather than their roots seeking nutrients in the soil, hydroponic crops grow from the dissolution of nutrients in the water and quicker root absorption. The process is climate controlled, less likely to attract garden pests, and doesn’t require plots of land.
Woodson High School offers space to house a prototype of the kit in exchange for Hudson teaching the weekly course. “This is a passion I need to fulfill,” said Hudson, who thinks, moves, and talks fast. “The joy you get from solving a problem is invigorating, especially when it’s a problem you care about.”
Hudson eventually wants to sell the curriculum and kits—which she calls the Ikea version of an autonomously operating vertical farm—to area schools. The cash flow would help offset the production costs for Hudson’s nonprofit, the Food for Thought Foundation, and the schools would receive a system to grow produce, distributed free of charge to students, teachers, and families.
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