Somewhere between the waterborne weirdness of New York City’s floating food forest and the far-out fantasies of growing food on Mars is this recent news nugget: The US military is considering installing gardens on some submarines, allowing personnel to grub on fresh produce during long missions.
According to the Associated Press, testing on the feasibility of including hydroponic gardens within a sub’s tight quarters is already in its second phase. The $100,000 project, run by engineering technician Don Holman, began with the 30-year Navy vet growing 83 varieties of fruits and vegetables to see which would thrive in peat moss plugs, nutrient solutions and LED lighting. (He said leafy greens and green onions did best whereas cucumbers, zucchinis and tomatoes weren’t so hot.)
But though it’s unlikely these gardens would ever produce enough food to cover all the meals during a month-long journey, simply being able to serve fresh fruits and vegetables beyond the first couple weeks of heading out to sea would be a big step forward. “When you give someone something they want, it improves their morale,” Holman told the AP, noting that sailors specifically had been asking for more produce. “And they perform better when morale is up.”
For instance, Popeye was a sailor man, and just think where he’d be without his spinach! Though, now that I think about it, that was usually from a can. Well, I bet Popeye would have kicked even more ass if he had fresh spinach.