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US (NC): Winston-Salem couple and Wake Forest alumna take on urban farming

Cedric and Allison White ('09) lead the way down the carpeted steps towards their basement in the Ardmore neighborhood of Winston-Salem with their two small children in tow. While some people use garages to store cars or rusty bikes, the White family harnesses their garage as a hydroponic microgreen and mushroom farm.

Opening the garage door, you're met with meticulous and full operation — equipment, freezers, tubs, and marker boards line the walls. On 0.28 acres of land, the White family makes use of every square foot for urban farming. Tarps section off different operational stages and harvests. A humidifier and fan lightly blow the curtain surrounding trays of colorful hydroponic microgreens. Purple, red, yellow, and green sprouts pop up under lights on silver racks lining the room.

Cedric White, with a degree in botany from NC State, has maintained a love of the outdoors since childhood. The idea for the microgreen farm stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Whites said they wanted a way to secure food for their family and create a sustainable lifestyle as prices rose and supply chains varied throughout the pandemic. Cedric White said another factor stemmed from walking around the Cobblestone Farmers' Market in 2020.

As a USDA-approved farm, the White's microgreen farming works in stages within a 7-14 day period. Using brown coconut coir pads and stainless steel mesh plates, Cedric places coconut or steel plates into black and green hydroponic bins. Taking a handful of seeds previously soaked in nutrient-solution water, he equally distributed them across the pads, making sure to leave room for aeration. Then, he sprayed the seeds with a mixture of water and 3% hydrogen peroxide.


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