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An Economical Way to Grow Healthy Vegetables at Home

June 2011

Ralph Harris, MD


White rice and Spam won’t help with reversing diabetes.  Fresh food is needed.  Imported produce is too expensive for most islanders and locally grown traditional foods are scarce or nonexistent.  In Majuro, a head of lettuce costs two hours wages.

Complicating the problem of agriculture is the fact that an atoll is composed of coral gravel piled up by the waves and swept by salt laden winds.  Precious water must be caught in cisterns and stored for the dry season.  When it does rain, nutrients added around the roots get washed deep down into the coral gravel.  Special techniques are required to overcome the obstacles of atoll gardening.

The author, Dr. Ralph Harris was the first Medical director at the Canvasback Wellness Center on Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands.  The center is a lifestyle intervention outpatient clinic.

Recognizing the obstacles of raising vegetables on an atoll with no fertile soil and little water, Dr Harris pioneered the use of self watering containers.

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