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According to the EPA, every year in the United States, approximately 31% (133 billion pounds) of the overall food supply is wasted. This is not sustainable with an ever-growing population and climate change making food production more vulnerable. To build a more sustainable food system, people with the privilege and resources need to reconsider their relationship with food and waste.

One way to build a better relationship with our food is to meet our local food producers. At the Chesterhill Produce Auction, you can directly meet the people who harvest your food as you buy fresh produce.

Another way is to consider how to reuse your food. For example, did you know that you can regrow your food in water?

This activity does not require a lot of space. In fact, you can turn your kitchen window sill into a garden. All you need is vegetable scraps, a container, and some water.

Some things you can regrow without dirt include (organized by easiest to hardest):

Green onions












  1. Using the white bulb/root part of your green onion, soak the roots in a small bowl or skinny jar. You should not cover the entire bulb in water, just the roots.
  2. Change water every 2-3 days or every week, so the roots get moldy or slimy.
  3. Cut the freshly grown green onions and add them as a condiment to any dish
  4. Repeat.










  1. Cut off the bottom of the head of lettuce
  2. Place the head in a shallow bowl of water, covering only the bottom of the head.
  3. New growth will begin in the center in a couple of days and a new half-head should grow in about 2 -3 weeks.

Herbs (basil, cilantro, etc.)









  1. Cut a stem about four inches long, and place it into a glass of water.
  2. Be sure that the leaves are not submerged in the water.
  3. Place your stem in a bright area, but out of direct sunlight.
  4. In a few days, look for roots forming. Then, harvest or plant in soil.

General tips

  1. You don’t need a lot of water, but it does need to be changed regularly, otherwise, your produce will get gross.
  2. Your container should give the produce enough space to grow, but not too much that it will drown in the water.
  3. Place your container on a window sill or in a place where it can get consistent, but not direct sunlight, to ensure good growth.
  4. You can use this process with many different vegetables or seeds, but you will eventually need to put them into the dirt. For example, I propagated this tomato plant (see below), but it cannot grow any longer without soil. Look at the roots growing out of the tomato plant!

Hannah Bernstein is an intern with Rural Action‘s Sustainable Agriculture team. She is a senior at Athens High School and has been involved with Rural Action for four years.



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