Charlotte gardens sprouted in Haiti

Ron Morgan is gradually sowing his dream of creating 100 aquaponic gardens in the Charlotte area and in Haiti.

Gardens are already growing at South Iredell High and Garinger High schools, and at Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center in Concord. Concrete tanks for an aquaponic garden were poured in Haiti over the summer, and Morgan hopes that garden will be ready by spring.

Asked if he still has hopes of completing the entire 100 Gardens project, Morgan replied, “Are you kidding me? We’re not hoping. We’re planning.”

The plan is to create 67 aquaponic gardens in and around Charlotte to educate people, paired with 33 gardens in Haiti to feed people.

Aquaponics combines hydroponics (growing plants without soil) with aquaculture (raising fish). Water containing nutrients from fish waste circulates through pipes and fertilizes plants. The plants, in turn, filter the water. The clean water is re-circulated back to the fish.

Morgan, an architect by training, got the idea when visiting Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

“Everybody’s hurting so bad,” Morgan said. “You go there and it changes your life. Surely there’s some way that Charlotte can help Haiti. This is it.”

He is hoping to raise much of the money for the project by selling aquaponic kits out of an old warehouse in NoDa. He said 100 Gardens is retrofitting the warehouse into a retail and community center.

The first garden in Haiti is being funded with help from Johnson C. Smith University and the Charlotte nonprofit Joseph’s Exchange, which is dedicated to building a self-sustaining village in Haiti.

For more information: 100gardens.org and josephs-exchange.org.