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FOOD + DRINK
City Hydroponic
NYC's urban gardening supply store with a mission
by Greg Stefano
on 25 March 2011
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Behind the many verdant closets and kitchen-corner produce installations increasingly tucked into NYC apartments, you can often find the expertise and passion of urban gardening advocate and entrepreneur Aaron Moore. Splitting his time between his two City Hydroponic supply stores in New York's Bronx and Brooklyn boroughs, Moore not only supplies the growing green gardening movement but proactively tackles the challenges of sustainable indoor farming with a focus on low-income neighborhoods, working to increase access to fresh produce and education about healthy living

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The staff of socially-responsible gardeners and urban growers at City Hydroponic can help with any indoor or outdoor gardening needs, whether growing with soil, water or nutrient mist. Stocked with all of the equipment necessary to set up functional hydroponic (growing solely with water and no soil) or aeroponic (spraying exposed root systems with a nutrient mist) farms in any space, ranging from a studio apartment to a suburban home, the shops are fully committed to the craft, stocking the highest tech tools in the trade. They offer a full line of fluorescent, HID, metal halide and high-pressure sodium lights, full hydroponics and aeroponics systems, nutrients, fertilizers and knowledgeable employees who will gladly explain everything from potting soil to building drainage systems.

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For budding urban farmers feeling intimidated by all the lights and gadgets, City Hydroponic periodically offers month long sessions of free hour-long classes on Saturdays. The comprehensive course starts with the basic concepts of hydro and aeroponic gardening and proceeds with how to produce and maintain a functional farm.

Moore, a huge advocate of food justice, feels education is as important as access, and by delivering these free classes to the community he hopes to push the green movement forward. "We need to generate a market from a grassroots level by educating our consumers, giving them confidence so they can partake in the green movement, and help them be successful in it." His agenda includes increasing knowledge about where your food comes from, why quality is important and how creating your own fresh produce empowers you as an individual.

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While Moore's goal might be lofty, it's also relatively simple. The concept was born from bearing witness to the poor dietary habits in his neighborhood and the urban landscape at large. "In the communities that we are in there is an abundance of food but there is not an abundance of quality food," he says. Rather than attempt to reverse gravitation toward what is available—typically highly-processed foods with grave nutritional consequences—his work comes down to changing what is available by creating a DIY supply chain that's doesn't price residents out. "We are trying to bring quality food to the masses, to all neighborhoods, not just those that can afford it. We want to make it more affordable in general, to teach people whats good food and what's not—and if its not readily available, show them how to grow their own!"

As food culture in America continues to diversify and the importance of healthy living becomes more apparent the movement will push this type of localized urban agriculture to the forefront of nutrition. Moore shows how anyone is capable of creating fresh organic produce right in their home, reducing carbon waste, soil and water usage and generally promoting a sustainable, self-sufficient way to stay healthy.

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