Krishna Nemali has his hands in a little bit of everything. From teaching, to extension, to research, it seems like he does it all. One of the main projects for the assistant professor of controlled environment agriculture is his Indoor Leafy Greens Production System.
The system consists of small units he built that contain LED lights. They can be used to grow food such as lettuce, spinach, and even small tomatoes indoors. While a lot of people could benefit from having this production unit, one event inspired Nemali to share it specifically with children.
"A couple of years back, my (now) 10-year-old son went to a summer program that involved growing vegetables outdoors, harvesting them, and making some soups and salads," Nemali said. "The program was only a week or two long, but afterward, my kid was all about eating healthy for the next few months."
This got Nemali thinking. He realized that when you give children this type of hands-on experience and allow them to see the life cycle of plants, they are more interested in eating healthy.
Nemali knew that more kids needed to experience what his son had, so he decided to bring the Indoor Leafy Greens Production System to a school.
"We had been working on indoor production systems for about two years and had most of the details nailed down, but then we needed to figure out how to customize it to school children," he said. "We altered the design, simplified it, and made the shelves a lower height for children."
Tri County Intermediate School in Wolcott, Indiana, is putting Nemali's work to the test.
Nemali is excited to continue this project and see it expand. With childhood obesity on the rise, he said its important to give children access to healthy food.
"The key here is educating our children with the foods that have a lot of nutrients," Nemali said. "When we educate them and develop these eating habits, we will get closer to tackling the childhood obesity problem."
This video is part of the Visionaries series, which highlights the work and lives of researchers in the Purdue University College of Agriculture. Visionaries is a collaboration with Envision magazine.
Read a related Envision story about Nemali and controlled environment agriculture, "An Inside Take on Agriculture"
"Teaching Is Noble"
"Controlled Environments Extend Possibilities"
The videos were created by the student filmmakers of YDAE 491 (Digital Storytelling), part of the agricultural communication program in the Purdue Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication.
The team members for this video are: Carley Myers (leader for this video), Emily Dougherty, and Cheyenne Dunn.