Living With The Land - At Home - Hydroponic Exploration - February 2023

It is well established (in our house) that the best (or at least...my favorite) attraction in the entire Vacation Kingdom is in Epcot called Living with the Land.  What's that?   You haven't been on it? Well...let me tell you about it.  Or...actually...let ChatGPT tell you about it.  I asked her this:

Can you describe the attraction at Disney's Epcot center that is called Living with the Land? Why would someone call it their favorite ride at disney?

Here's what she said:

Living with the Land is a slow-moving boat ride attraction located in the Land Pavilion at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The ride takes guests on a journey through various indoor and outdoor agricultural environments, showcasing different methods of sustainable farming and food production.

During the ride, guests can observe a variety of farming techniques, including hydroponics, aquaculture, and integrated pest management. There are also several dioramas that show different ecosystems and farming methods from around the world, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of the greenhouses where Disney grows its own fruits and vegetables.

Many visitors consider Living with the Land to be one of their favorite attractions at Disney for several reasons. Firstly, the ride is both educational and entertaining, as it teaches guests about the importance of sustainable agriculture and the impact of human activity on the environment. Additionally, the ride offers a unique glimpse into the inner workings of one of the world's largest theme park resorts, which can be fascinating for both children and adults alike.

Moreover, Living with the Land has a soothing and relaxing atmosphere, making it an ideal ride for those looking for a break from the more high-intensity attractions at the park. The ride also has a sentimental appeal to many guests who have visited Epcot Center over the years, as it has been a fixture of the park since it opened in 1982.
Hang that answer in the Louvre.

Why do I bring it up?  

Because gardening - food gardening - is on my mind.  And Living with the Land shows off how to grow food in various ways.  Including hydroponically.  See this photo from George Weigel below (source of photo here):


Vertical, soil-less gardening sure feels like the future that we all wanted when the Epcot Center was introduced in 1981.  But, it also feels like a future that *I want* now.  

I have failed to replicate my garden that we had in Elmhurst in our yard in Downers Grove.  Despite our space growing exponentially, the conditions haven't been right.  

But, what about a patio, vertical hydroponic garden?  It is well-tuned for things that we like - lettuces, herbs, tomatoes, even.

Why not try to bring a little bit of my favorite Disney attraction home, right?  

That's what I was thinking this week.  And then I went digging around the Web to discover that those commercially-available towers are either cheap and not-so-well-designed (they crack, tip over, are too small, etc) or are crazy expensive.  Like $700 expensive.  

Turns out, I'm not the first guy to tread this path as the Web (and YouTube) is littered with DIY projects for hydroponic structures.  Benches, Ziz-Zags, Towers.  Everything you can imagine has been done.  

I wasted time looking at a bunch of them then went back and forth on if DIY was the right move or not.  And then went back on YouTube.  I found this video from Chris Loh where he walks through a build that is interesting to me. First...it is a 4 tower setup.   He has more on his site here

There are some things that I really like about this:  The sturdiness.  I can't help but think that towers with basins are prone to flopping.  I like his refill spout.  I like that he's contemplated filters.  And, I like that it feels (maybe I'm crazy) attainable.  

What don't I like?  The top - where he transitions to a smaller diameter pvc.  I also am NOT sold on the heating up and bending the spouts.   Those are things that can be worked through.

I suppose I need to dig in a bit more - to see if there's a hybrid approach between this and someone else's that I can use to build out a hydroponic system - maybe with a different take on the spouts for the net pots.  And how to keep it from flopping over.  

Feels like a 2023 to-do list item has arrived. 


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