Pierre Sleiman is being honored as a Future of American Agriculture Champion of Change.
As a little boy, I was always fascinated with science and technology, often preferring to play with wires and circuits rather than other toys. When I was about 15 years old, I discovered an old study on hydroponics (growing plants in water instead of soil) in my dad’s office that had been abandoned. My imagination went wild. What happens when farming goes high-tech? Imagine what you can do…
Today, I am a farmer. However, four years ago neither I nor anyone in my family lineage was a farmer. My undergraduate degree is in computer science and my master’s degree is in business. During a business class in college, we were studying how high-tech companies are decentralizing. Again, agriculture came to mind. Most agricultural production in America is concentrated in relatively small regions and then trucked across the country. What is holding us back from putting small local farms in every city? What are the challenges that can be turned into opportunities? And thus, Go Green Agriculture was born.
As I learned more about agriculture, I quickly realized that farmers today are facing big challenges in supplying a rapidly growing population. Challenges including weather, diminishing arable farmland, pests, disease, food security, and, of course, limited water and other natural resources. Some other statistics also impacted me; for example, the average age of farmers has been rising over the past decades. Today the average farmer is in their late 50s. This tells me that there are few new farmers entering the industry. Let’s face it; the average kid doesn’t think farming is a “cool” profession.
As a person who loves science, technology, engineering and math, I have discovered that farming is the new frontier of untapped potential in these fields. Chemistry, biology, robotics, automation, engineering and computer science are only a few fields that are deeply applicable. From growing food for astronauts in space, producing biofuels that power cars and aircraft, discovering new medical uses for plants, to designing highly productive urban farms in the middle of big cities…the opportunities for creative thinking and innovation are limitless.
The only way to truly exploit the incredible potential of agriculture is to get our youth excited about it. We do not just want agronomy and horticulture college majors to become farmers. We need chemists, engineers, computer scientists, biologists, and more. Interdisciplinary collaboration between diverse groups of people will invigorate creative thinking to produce solutions to challenges that could otherwise not be solved by looking at a problem from just one perspective. The more diversified the better. I am living proof that a computer scientist can become a successful farmer.
Within Go Green Agriculture, we encourage diversity, creative thinking, and ideas from every employee. Externally, I teach and inspire youth, in all fields of study, about the exciting opportunities for creativity and innovation in agriculture. Imagine what you could do…
Pierre Sleiman is the founder and CEO of Go Green Agriculture, an innovative company that grows produce inside high-tech greenhouses using hydroponics. Go Green’s mission is to setup greenhouses across the country to provide local jobs and fresh, delicious, and nutritious produce to the community.