The “seed” to initiate Student Farmers came from Charlie Szoradi, who has been a passionate advocate of sustainable and healthy living over the past three decades of his career. His passion inspired Philadelphia area students to engage. Student Farmers was started in early 2022 by four high school students who saw the positive advantages of indoor farming and have set out to expand awareness and cultivate meaningful change for human health and the health of our planet.

Calvin Szoradi | Ashley Tang | Aaron Tang | Channing Wells

The origin story of Student Farmers is pretty simple.

On a cold Sunday evening, January 16, 2022, Calvin’s father, Charlie Szoradi, stopped in at the Tang’s house to drop off microgreens for his friends Robert and Cheryl Tang (Ashely and Aaron’s parents). Aaron is one of Calvin’s classmates, friends, and basketball teammates.  Over the previous year, Aaron’s sister Ashley had worked as a research intern for Charlie’s company, and the families have become close friends. Cheryl suggested video taping Charlie’s “presentation” of the microgreens from his Local Grow Farms, because he was also excited to show off the newly released “I Grow Therefore I Am” apparel. This video of the visit became the springboard for Student Farmers. Calvin and Channing have been friends since kindergarten, and the four founding students create the strong cornerstones of Student Farmers.

Preceding the microgreen drop off, Calvin had been hearing for years about his father’s passion for indoor farming and sustainable living. Over the spring of 2021, Calvin helped his dad plant an edible garden at their family beach house in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, which includes rainwater collection and solar power to address the water, energy, food security nexus.

Another catalyst for Student Farmers came over the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday, when Calvin visited his uncle’s ranch near the Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Calvin and his sister and father had a chance to see first-hand a self-sustaining ranch (completely off the grid) with extensive planting beds for growing vegetables as well as the ranch’s orchard.

Student Farmers - Calvin Szoradi with microgreens during germination
Calvin with his first germination tray, starting-up the microgreen seed cultivation
Student Farmers -Ashley Tang keeping the microgreens hydrated
Ashley focuses on her precision hydration, with water sprayer in hand
Student Farmers - Aaron Tang with the first signs of microgreen photosynthesis
Aaron with his microgreens on day 1 of vegetation, showing the first signs of photosynthesis

Channing with microgreens in day 6 of vegetation, ready to harvest the next day

Calvin, Ashely, Aaron, and Channing live in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, and their hope with Student Farmers is to build a growing national network of high school and college students who embrace the Future of Food, with year-round planting for healthy minds, bodies, and environmental stewardship. As of Fall 2022, Ashely is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania and Calvin, Aaron, and Channing are juniors at Episcopal Academy.

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