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“Sustainable Hydroponic Food Systems” Lessons from the Field

October 29, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

The world faces two converging needs: more food and more energy. With a limited amount of global arable land, rising fuel prices and the escalating environmental costs associated with fertilizers and pesticides, there is an urgent need to develop new methods of growing food in sustainable ways. Energy is a large component of cost for most agricultural systems in terms of production and distribution. One way to minimize these costs is to localize food production using advanced production technologies such as hydroponics, employing sustainable intensive farming techniques and utilizing renewable energy sources.

At our October meeting, Dr. Eric Stein of Penn State will talk with us about his experience and research with hydroponics—growing plants efficiently in water, without soil. Eric will share with us his personal experience of designing, building, and operating a small-scale hydroponic system. It’s an interesting story from a real do-it-yourselfer (things didn’t always go right the first time!).

Eric uses the successful vertical-indoor-hydroponic system he built to measure energy consumption and experiment with various plant types and input factors (such as pH, temperature, lighting). He’ll discuss the system measurements and controls and take a look at a cost-benefit analysis.

In his talk, Eric will also cover the benefits of hydroponic systems, different types of systems and the architecture and components of NFT (nutrient film technique) systems, including how they work to meet plant needs. The talk will close with examples of hydroponic systems for market production, community development and research. It’s fascinating and, from a sustainability perspective, very thought provoking. Yes, it is…food for thought!

Dr. Eric Stein is a professor of Management Science and Information Systems at the Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate and Professional Studies. His current areas of research and interest include sustainable venture development, energy policy, green technologies, small business development and community development. His recent research to develop a model for ranking renewable and non-renewable energy production systems was published in Elsevier’s Renewable and Sustainable Reviews. Eric has a PhD in Managerial Science from Wharton and a BA in Physics from Amherst. He’s also an accomplished jazz musician, ski instructor and a Councilman in Media, PA.

This is our last meeting of 2013! After the meeting, we hope you can stick around and chat with friends old and new. We’re also interested in your ideas for MAREA speakers, activities and services. Light snacks will be served. Hope to see you there.

For questions, contact Vera Cole,[masked] or [masked].


Free T’s—no trick, all treat!  At the Oct 29 meeting we will be giving away t-shirts from previous MAREA events. Help yourself, enjoy! (Voluntary donations will be welcomed.)

Free DVD with MAREA membership  While supplies last, all new and renewing MAREA members will receive a free copy of “Saving Sunshine, Keeping the Lights on with Batteries and Solar Power,” the 30-minute DVD produced by MAREA this year with funding from the Berks Community Foundation and distributed by Bullfrog Films. It’s terrific film, offering an interesting and easily understood explanation of the electricity grid and distribution generation, especially the role of batteries with solar. MAREA is a 501(c)3 non-profit. Donations and memberships are how we keep the lights on. You can join at the meeting or anytime online. Thanks for your help. 


TEK Park
9999 Hamilton Blvd.
Breinigsville, PA 18031 us


Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association (eastern PA)