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Help Children Grow Tomatoes using EarthBoxes

EarthBoxes are a highly efficient, foolproof method of growing tomatoes suitable for crowded urban areas. Children can easily set up EarthBoxes and grow some of their own food, organically promoting better nutrition for themselves and their families.

Photo of Avi Solomon

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EarthBoxes are a highly efficient, foolproof method of growing tomatoes suitable for crowded urban areas. Children can easily set up EarthBoxes and grow some of their own food, organically promoting better nutrition for themselves and their families.

A DIY version can be made using two five gallon buckets or bigger plastic bins.

Soda Pop Bottle Planters can be used for a easy start by the children and for farming on vertical surfaces like shack walls. (Thanks for reminding me of this Johan)

How do you envision this idea making money?

Children can sell surplus produce at a weekly farmer's market

How does this idea create social impact, particularly around improving health?

By organically improving family nutrition

How does this idea add social value at every step of the process?

Builds children's health, confidence and entrepreneurial skills

What are the short term steps we could take to implement this idea tomorrow?

Start an EarthBox pilot project in Caldas
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Attachments (2)


DIY Two Bucket EarthBox Sub Irrigated Planter


DIY EarthTainer Construction Guide


Join the conversation:

Photo of Meena

Sounds great! And seems children could be encourage to grow a lot more than tomatoes in these? Sack gardening was certainly a hit amongst low-income communities when I was in Nairobi last year: Am sure there are ways that we could flesh out this concept and fill in details that would strengthen it even further – get together and build, guys!

Photo of Sergio

I was looking for something on OpenIdeo where a group of people could build something but its not available... it will be marvelous if we, together could build something, not only comment, but create, mix, transform.

I am sure we all love if this option is available here... better things will come out :)

Photo of Johan

Would it become possible for people to manufacture their own buckets with the irrigation? or do you have to buy plastic factorymade buckets? I was thinking partly to cut down initial costs, and to also make it into a business, so some of them can manufacture more buckets and sell in their neighbourhood, along with instructions and tutoring on home-farming. Maybe also a school-project for a science-fair and simiilar?

Do many have access to their own rooftops? I thought that many people living in villages have no space outdoors? And growing plants inside their living area would be taking up valuable space.
what planting model is taking up least amount of space? pots, square boxes or sacks or another type? feasible? enough low cost to DIY?

Would it be possible to show inspiration in a handbook on cheap and clever ways to collect rainwater for watering the plants? or is it enough monthly percipitation and humidity in the air?

Photo of Meena

Indeed Johan – see my link below for the sack garden that flourished in Nairobi's Mathare. Easy, cheap and great entrepreneurial outputs!

Photo of Avi

A wiremesh could be laid on top of the shack roof for the tomatoes to get gripholds and sun. A gutter from the roof could drain directly into the earthbox - it already has an overflow hole to let off excess water.

Photo of Avi

Johan, in my experience is simply too high-tech & electricity intensive - though it does get lots of publicity:)

For Local DIY manufacturing designs that don't use plastic, Olla Clay Pot method might be your best bet:

Photo of Johan

i added the windowfarms only as inspiration for people to be creative and use trash like PET-bottles and reuse for "hanging improvised gardens" that do not take up much floor space.

Photo of Avi

Johan, did you mean something along these lines?:

Photo of Sergio

Reading all of these about "plastic bottles" could be also a greater way of giving second life to plastic products that people in cities throw away. Imagine you live in Manizales, and you return your plastic bottle and get something on return (symbolic, I presume). That's a way of linking enterprises, people in the cities and children in Caldas.

Photo of Sergio

I thought of a concept called WILLBE where we can use this earthboxes, not only for tomatoes, but maybe kids can explore seeding other vegetables and plants.

For me, one thing that is very important and you should not point to it, is make children workers. That's a major issue in Colombia. I think, better is teach them as a game, so when they grow older, they can work on that based on what was a game.

Photo of Avi

Thanks Sergio for pointing out that sad fact. Of course it should be a game by choice. I'm using tomatoes as a starter plant example.Spinach is also a good choice. Any proceeds from selling the produce should be kept by the children in a "Grameen" bank account in their name.

Photo of Sergio

I remember this "psychological game" when kids take home an egg and treat it like a living being. Imagine they have this as a "school" project, but also, they are responsible of taking some earthboxes home (so you can explain that care is not only one "theoretical" thing that you do in school, but that school is planned to make you and the others live better. It could turn out into a contest when the best grower, should receive and special prize, or maybe put his name in somewhere visible for all in Caldas, so you can also increase joy and pride.

Wow, your project also can grow into a beautiful "tomato" :)