Student Profile: Junior Nevo Magnezi Gardens for a Better Future

Grace Leslau, Onlline Feature co-editor & print feature assistant co-editor

Junior Nevo Magnezi combats problems that are the results of an industrialized agricultural system by avoiding it all together and growing his own food. Today, fruits and vegetables in the grocery store are often covered with pesticides and herbicides, genetically modified, and carted from somewhere on the other side of the planet.  Beyond the health hazards of eating produce that is treated with harmful chemicals and the unknown effects of genetically modified foods, the environmental damage caused by the transport of produce and the extensive land use and soil damage from the cultivation of these plants is enormous. Magnezi decided to grow his own foods to avoid the plethora of issues that arise from industrialized agriculture.

“I was basically interested in where my food came from,” he said. “I wanted to eat higher quality food.”

Magnezi built a raised frame out of lumber in his yard and filled it with soil. He then surrounded the bed with fencing to keep deer and rabbits out. He first grows the plants in small cups on his window sill and then transfers them to the outdoor bed.  In terms of maintenance, Magnezi applies an organic pesticide and waters the plants. He learned not to water his plants every day as the frequent rainfall in this area renders this approach ineffective. However, he does have to water the lettuce more frequently than some of the other plants because it can quickly wilt.

For Magnezi, his work in his garden has been educational and informative.

“I understand weather a lot better, humidity and I’m rather well accustomed the frost and freeze dates in our area,” he said. “I know a lot about plant classification.”

Magnezi’s garden represents a conscious effort to reduce his environmental impact. He uses organic seeds that are not hybrids or genetically modified. He also uses heirloom seeds. Heirloom seeds are seeds that have been selected because of a particular trait and then conserved for many generations. They must be at least 50 years old in order to be considered heirloom seeds.

“I guess I like the historical aspect to it too,” said Magnezi.

Magnezi found that the he got the highest output from the beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. He also grows corn, lettuce, pumpkin, carrots, squash, spinach, eggplant and a multitude of other fruits and vegetables. He even grows flowers, like marigolds because they repel pests, and nasturtiums, which are edible flowers.

Gardening can be a relief from the stress of school. Although the basic struggle to grow enough food for survival has long been forgotten, the results of gardening one’s own produce are higher quality, healthier foods that minimize the environmental impact and provide a fun outlet.

“It’s sort of calming and meditative, I also like the high quality food,” said Magnezi. “Regular vegetables from a supermarket seem bland or disgusting in comparison.”