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    14-Year-Old North Georgia Resident Is State's Youngest Certified Hydroponic Farmer

    By Special PhotoBy Chris Starrs Staff Correspondent,

    Malon E.D. James is shown here with the hydroponic grow pods he uses to raise a variety of produce. Special Photo

    Considering the food insecurity that exists locally, national and internationally, Lawrenceville resident Malon E.D. James is on to something when he envisions employing hydroponics to help feed the world.

    James, 14, is Georgia’s youngest certified hydroponic farmer and he’s spreading the word about the benefits of hydroponics, a type of farming and gardening that requires no soil, is not reliant on climate and is highly sustainable.

    James, who is taking online agriculture classes from Central State University in Ohio, became interested in hydroponics three years ago while conducting research on the effects of the pandemic on countries like Liberia and other slow-developing countries. He noted that food insecurity is prevalent due to farming techniques, habitat destruction and monsoons.

    “I knew farming was the answer, because what else would be the answer?” he said. “But traditional farming has a handicap because it relies on the seasons. Liberia has monsoons and most the time a heavy amount of rain will kill your crops. How can I find a way to farm without relying on seasons or being exposed to pests, like in traditional farming?”

    After researching hydroponics, James got involved with Texas-based Lettuce Grow (co-founded by actor Zooey Deschanel) and was off and running. The home he shares with his mother Monique James has a good number of hydroponic grow pods, where he raises a variety of produce, including tomatoes, squash, strawberries, kale and peppers.

    On his website, James points out that hydroponics makes accessing home-grown food easier and more convenient and uses less water than traditional farming.

    “Hydroponics could wipe out food insecurities with no difficulty,” said James. “You can grow everything a traditional farmer can — there are no limitations at all.”

    James, who donates some of his crop to the Southeast Gwinnett Co-op in Grayson, has been taking his message on the road, offering training at various schools. He recently held an education session for second-grade students at Clairmont Elementary School in Decatur, complete with a tour of his mobile hydroponic farm stands, and he held a youth hydroponics workshop on behalf of the Athens Land Trust at the Athens-Clarke County Library.

    “Athens Land Trust helped me get some of my supplies and I did some work with some schools, and at the moment I’m teaching people about hydroponics,” he said. “I want to spread the word about hydroponics and the importance of community support.

    “My goal is to have hydroponics in every house. Hydroponics could wipe out food insecurities with no difficulty.”

    Last September, James was honored by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners for his efforts, recognizing him as Georgia’s youngest certified hydroponic farmer.

    “Malon is a pioneer in the hydroponics industry, championing hydroponic farming as a practical solution to combat food insecurity and promote environmental sustainability,” said the proclamation. “…Malon serves as a role model for people of all ages and backgrounds, inspiring them to believe in themselves, pursue their passions with purpose and give back to their community.”

    For more information, visit

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