US (MO): Veterans learn urban hydroponic farming

In the last six months, you may have eaten produce grown by Kansas City veterans. There is a new program teaching Kansas City veterans how to grow food as a life skill and be a part of the agriculture workforce. With time and patience, green leaves pop up in rows. "This is genovese basil," said Ryan Foster with Chow Hall Farms.

Foster is working to harvest 20 pounds of it. The basil is planted in a shipping container that was turned into a hydroponic farm off 88th Street and Troost Avenue. "It provides confidence that we are doing it the right way, and the things they are teaching us are what's supposed to happen," Foster said.

Growing stalks of varying towering mushrooms and 800 basil sprigs, Foster didn't start out as an urban farmer, but as a Marine in Iraq. "The more I work with plants and produce, it just calms that part of me that I could never get calmed," he said.

Foster said he later experienced homelessness and found help through a veterans program. "It was a hard time, it was a real hard time," he said. "A lot of my life, I've kind of been a jerk. I've been that person who gets frustrated way too easily. It feels to me almost like growing produce is a justification for all the bad I've done. I'm bringing back good, and I'm doing good by the earth, by the world."


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