All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Robert W Peters

Advisory Committee Members

Lee G Moradi

Karolina M Mukhtar

Gail Wallace

Tingting Wu

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2020

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Engineering

Abstract

The University of Alabama at Birmingham undergraduate and graduate programs’ continued involvement in the Birmingham-Jefferson County community have identified food insecure areas, known as food deserts, and associated health issues negatively impacting the community due to poor diets and lack of access to healthy foods. Farm stands and community gardens around the Birmingham-metropolitan area have increased healthy food availability during the past several years to encourage healthier eating habits. To combat food insecurity, sustainable alternative growing techniques for urban agriculture need to be implemented and incorporated into local community gardens. Alternative gardening techniques such as vertical gardens maximize yield in limited space. This research seeks to analyze various vertical growth methods (Tower Garden®, Pyramid, and Vertical-Pallet), water quality (city and lake), and overall yield. Biomass, chlorophyll content, and amount of water required for irrigation were assessed to determine the growth mechanism providing the most efficient system as measured by vegetable production. The collected waters were analyzed for the impact of the water source on production. The goal of this study was to determine conditions and techniques for vertical gardening in urban areas located in the Southeastern United States with limited resources such as space, water, and soil. Biomass was used to identify overall yield of spinach grown in the three vertical growth methods with different water sources. Spinach was selected based on its crop suitability for the regional climate conditions of Birmingham, Alabama. The resulting spinach leaves from each mechanism were dried and weighed for biomass analysis (dry versus wet weight). Aldridge Gardens, located in Hoover, Alabama, provided land space and resources for this research. The data were analyzed to estimate optimal growing practices for communities in climate zones similar to those of Birmingham, Alabama, in growing spinach and similar leafy greens. The research determined the most cost-effective mechanism by plant survivability was the pallet gardens and overall most successful water type was lake water. The Tower Gardens® were successful in plant yield, but the unit cost outweighs the success of this mechanism when compared to the pallet gardens.

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Engineering Commons

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