Charles Luster of Worcester, Massachusetts, is using hydroponics to combat food insecurity with his nonprofit, 2Gether We Eat.
With food insecurity worsening since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Worcester man is trying to fight hunger one seedling at a time.
“No one in America should be starving,” said Charles Luster.
When Luster retired, the former college basketball coach, teacher and businessman first entertained the idea of entering the cannabis business, but he turned his attention to the growing problem of food deserts and food insecurity in his hometown of Worcester.
“Everything I had learned from seed to sell with cannabis works from seed to harvest in the community,” Luster said.
But how do you do that in central Massachusetts year-round?
The answer is hydroponics – and that’s the foundation of Luster’s nonprofit, “2Gether We Eat.”
“With hydroponics, we use water and nutrients,” said Luster.
But there’s no need for soil. That means Luster can grow fresh produce pretty much anywhere in a fraction of the space.
The plants even grow at Webster Square Daycare Center, with gardeners aged 4 and 5.
“I love planting seeds,” said 4-year-old Jayden.
“They turn into veggies and lettuce,” said 5-year-old Skylar.
“Such a good enrichment program, for our science component, for our curriculum, and he has just bonded with these children,” said Eileen Lavallee, executive director at Webster Square Daycare Center.
And the fruits of their labor stay in the community.
“When some of the mature plants grow, we transport it to a domestic violence shelter, where we provide food for the shelter,” Luster said.