151 Farmers

By Cara Anderson

IG: @carajojo

“A 151 Farmer is really anyone who has an interest in growing organic food and meds using sustainable and environmentally conscience cultivation techniques.”

Poverty, hunger, homelessness; we can avert our eyes or we can acknowledge that we have potential to help our communities. 3.5 million people are homeless in the United States, of these 3.5 million homeless people, 23% are veterans. San Diego has the fourth highest homeless population of US cities, which makes sense considering the military presence. According to the census bureau, over 15% of San Diegans live below the poverty level. Many people can go every day without thinking about these struggles. It’s a privilege to be able to drive down the street and avert your eyes when you want to ignore the truth and reality of homelessness, but at the end of the day, you aren’t helping anyone.

Darryl Cotton is an example of someone recognizing and utilizing his privilege to benefit, educate, and uplift his community. Candid Chronicle stopped by 151 Farmers for a tour with Darryl Cotton. Darryl showed us their aquaponic tanks, vertical gardens, grow trailers, housing unit, and rooftop plants. He passionately explained their mission to provide a sustainable answer to people in need of medical marijuana and organic food. 151 Farmers is a CSA organization; a Community Supported Agriculture or Cannabis Supported Agriculture, either one works. 151 Farmers is using aquaponics to revolutionize the way people grow their food, medicine, and benefit the community.

Hydroponics is a relatively well-known term, a practice of growing plants without soil. Aquaponics has all of the aspects of hydroponics; no soil, flooding, draining, faster plant growth, but with the added benefit of being able to concurrently raise fish. Aquaponics uses 5% of the water typically needed for hydroponics by recycling the water through fish tanks. The aquaponic fish water creates beneficial bacteria in the lava rocks used to grow vegetables and flowers. 151 Farmers practices aquaponic farming by utilizing the by-products of raising tilapia and koi to nourish the plants that they grow.

It’s pretty miraculous that 151 Farmers is able to get koi to reproduce in San Diego’s climate, but the wonder doesn’t stop there. They’ve created a system that not only educates and reinforces their community, but also provides medicine, food, and housing for those in need. For every 1 pound of marijuana that they grow, 151 Farmers donates 5 pounds of food to homes and communities in need. The fish, food, and marijuana that they grow are all organic.

For people that are facing homelessness, 151 Farmers provides shelter in exchange for work. Working at 151 Farmers includes learning how to grow vegetables and marijuana, skills that will last a lifetime. 151 Farmers aims to aid people that are struggling with poverty, hunger, and homelessness with their sustainable cultivation; their model could be used anywhere to create positive change in communities. You, too, can benefit your communities by learning about sustainable growing.

For more information on the work that Darryl and 151 Farmers is doing, visit their site, www.151farmers.org.