Something is growing in Uphams Corner, and it doesn’t even need dirt.
At the Salvation Army Kroc Center, area students are learning how to grow plants and vegetables using hydroponics. The after-school program is made possible through a two-year, $250,000 grant by the National Science Foundation.
Pictured: Mike Barnett, a Boston College professor, worked on the hydroponics system in the Kroc’s lobby.
The program, led by Boston College professor Mike Barnett and supported by STEM Garden Institute, aims to get students excited about science and teach them how to grow nutritious veggies.
Pictured: One of the tower systems
From basil to kale, the students ages 6 to 12 have been setting up their own hydroponic towers at the center. Eventually, the Kroc Center will host a planting tower in its lobby, five tower systems in its greenhouse, and 32 student-built tower systems in its upstairs education center.
Some of the vegetables are taken home by the students, and the rest are used in the Kroc’s café and culinary classes.
Pictured: Beatriz Almeida, a nine-year-old from Dorchester, worked on a tower system with Kroc Center staff.
The hydroponic system, a soilless planting process that uses mineral nutrient solutions and water, has many advantages, especially in the Northeast. The growing system can be stacked vertically, allowing for more plants in smaller spaces. Because it uses light and is inside, plants can be grown year-round.
Pictured: A tower system located in the Kroc’s lobby.
Students were divided up on Monday, with some completing classroom work and others constructing their planting towers. Working in teams, 8- and 9-year-old students constructed their towers without directions.
Pictured: Jamal Andrade-Teixeira, a nine-year-old Roxbury resident, made some adjustments to his system Monday.
Right now, Barnett and his team are working out the kinks in the program. Eventually, Barnett plans to turn everything over to the Kroc Center to be run by its staff for years to come.
Pictured: Leslie Benoit, an eight-year-old Dorchester resident, added the final touches to her tower.
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