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Local farm using unique ways to grow food

Posted at 7:11 PM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 08:14:43-05
Growing food on a carpet is one of a few unique ways a Fort Myers farm is putting food on the table. 
 
Echo Farms is a non-profit rooted in Southwest Florida that considers themselves as an information hub for development practitioners around the world.
 
One of the missions of the organization is to come up with sustainable solutions for people facing hunger or poverty world wide. Some of the sustainable solutions include farming techniques, nutritional plants, and technology that is tested world wide. 
 
Interns that work on the farm dedicate 15 months to a specific area of the farm and one week a year the interns participate in "The Farm Challenge." As part of the challenge, interns are required to eat only what is produced on the farm, with two exceptions - salt and oil.
 
Interns use different methods to grow food on the farm including using tires, kiddie pools, and gutters. Alyssa Barrett says certain crops are grown in tires, but if you don't have extra tires lying around, a little extra polyester carpet may surprise you.
 
 "You just lay it out there and you can put mulch on top and soil, if you want," Barrett said. "Then you're able to put water on it and the water will be held by the carpet."
 
Barrett says many of these techniques are useful in developing countries to grow food. 
 
"Tires are more of a short term solution or immediate solution for farmers, especially with the audience we're trying to reach here those who are impoverished."
 
Alie Diaz with Echo says a farm to fork trend is growing across the country and some of the methods can be used by you and your family. 
 
"People are surprised to know you can grow food on a bed of carpet," Diaz said. "It does take some work but with a little bit of TLC and some sun, your plants will grow."
 
Visitors like Dee Donalson are putting some of these methods to the test, growing her own crops in her small patio at home. 
 
"I have used a plastic laundry basket that has holes in the sides and I'm growing beans out of the top," Donalson said. "I've put a little frame of a fence around it and at the bottom in the holes I put in strawberry plants."
 
Diaz adds that there are many recycled materials that can be used to produce healthy greens. You can find more information by clicking here