Leah Horton

Urban Gardeners: The Key to a Healthier Future

Class of: 2022

Major: Fashion Design BFA

Medium: A combination of a physical model and a PowerPoint presentation, including pages of research

Faculty: Laura Sansone

Prompt: This project continues our exploration of the relationship between products and byproducts and the interconnectedness of products and systems. We will study sustainability through the design and prototyping of products, services or systems that have social and environmental value beyond profit (monetary value). Emphasis will be placed on research-based solutions, which address the following questions: The Environmental: What is the environmental impact of material choices (from extraction to discontinued use)? What effect do production methods have on the environment? What impact does distribution have on the environment? The Economic: Who is benefiting from the production? Is it feasible to produce? Does the cost of making allow a continued model of production and profit? Does the cost of purchasing enable consumers to sustain their wellbeing? Are the raw materials used to create the product renewable?- Is it economically viable to replenish the materials that were used to produce the product? The Social: Does the product benefit our society? What are the social implications of its production? How does it improve the community of consumers or users? Does the product foster a healthy work culture, one where the makers have autonomy, emotional, psychological, and physical wellbeing? As we develop our designs, consideration will be given to alternative systems of production and organization that are regenerative and based on interdependencies, and equity. The goal is to design products or systems that are ethically produced and have value to the local communities. Part of the design process includes making production methods and resources transparent along every step of the product’s life-cycle. Development of the product will include the following: research and development user studies packaging sales / business strategy marketing and advertising design of instructions or educational information supporting graphics or components a series of maquettes professional prototypes

The purpose of my assignment was to explore the relationship between products and byproducts and the interconnectedness of products and systems. Furthermore to go beyond monetary value with a product, services or systems; also it emphasizes the importance of the environment, economic and social value. I was assigned urban gardeners.

Conveniently, my family are actual urban gardeners, regarding the fact that we own a hydroponics farm in North Carolina. I decided to explore this form of urban gardening in New York City. After doing extensive research i found that hydroponics had started its foundation in the city.

Further, I contemplated the issues in hydroponics. I actively searched for a problem to solve and a product that could be produced to fix its issues. I soon realized that this type of gardening could actually be a solution in its own right after receiving an article about food safety from my brother. I was guided to the global epidemic of food deserts.

I established my problem and system to solve it I honed in on a certain group. After looking at community farms I decided to focus on schools. I began to answer my assignments foundational questions; from these questions I formed an additional service to my project by creating hydroponics classes in schools. This idea had been underdeveloped until I found schools that have already implemented this into their science classes.

My final steps were to create my own model with a budget that would work in schools and easily accessible materials. I created a finalized project with lots of guidelines for myself that were ideal for a school in a food desert. I found that hydroponics can solve food deserts but also can give schools, colleges and communities year-round healthy foods, along with new education and little funds.