Growing Futures Hydroponic Monitoring System

Growing Futures is a response to an increasingly uncertain world. We are a brainchild of the Parkdale Food Centre’s dynamic Executive Director, Karen Secord and under the PFC umbrella. We are a social enterprise geared towards promoting food and financial literacy in children and youth, so they have a better chance at living healthy and fulfilling lives. Our mission is to foster a more physically and financially resilient next generation by teaching children and youth the importance of good food, how to grow it, and the basics of running their own business. Participants develop these critical skills by using hydroponic growing systems to create small market gardens. Through Growing Futures, groups of youth (Harvesters) partner with local businesses (Business Partners), who provide mentorship and a customer base. The leafy greens and herbs grown are also sold to individuals, which increases community access to affordable healthy food.

The challenge was born out of our rapid expansion. In a year and a half, Growing Futures went from 10 systems in the Hintonburg area to 49 all over Ottawa, with 2 in Iroquois. Only one of our staff has a vehicle and it’s important that we check on our Host sites to ensure that their systems are well-maintained. However, our time and reach is limited. We would like to explore monitoring software for the hydroponic systems so we can automate many of the maintenance functions, like checking water levels, checking pH levels, and knowing the quantity of nutrients the system needs.

We challenge you to help us develop a monitoring software that is efficient, cost-effective, and sends alerts when hydroponic systems need to be watered, filled with nutrients, or pH balanced.