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Steven Capobianco joins Extension as horticulture agent

Steven Capobianco is Mecklenburg’s new Extension horticulture agent.
Steven Capobianco is Mecklenburg’s new Extension horticulture agent.

Steven Capobianco has interesting ideas for making Mecklenburg County Extension’s horticulture program more modern.

And he’s got an opportunity to test his ideas as Extension’s new horticulture agent.

His ideas are rooted in the local food movement.

“Fresh food and healthy food is becoming more expensive,” Capobianco said. “I want to educate people on how to grow their own food at home, whether they live on 3 acres or no acres.”

At age 25, the N.C. State University grad is likely among the youngest to hold the job in Mecklenburg. You might suppose that his age helps to explain his interest in bringing technology into horticulture. Take another guess.

Capobianco says his interest in alternative gardening and farming started on his family’s property in Monroe, where he still lives. The property is maybe 5 acres and has a 28-by-40-foot greenhouse.

The tented frame is where he began to appreciate the potential of alternative growing methods such as hydroponics and aquaponics. These systems let you grow plants without soil, which means growers can set up in all kinds of settings.

Capobianco would like to see tomatoes, greens and herbs growing on more balconies, windowsills and vertical planters. Even a fish tank can become part of an aquaponic food system.

He also wants to help growers become more comfortable with using organic pest controls. It’s his plan for moving the community toward sustainable horticulture.

“A community where people know where their food comes from and how it is grown” is the ideal that he’s working for.