Dorchester and Roxbury youth will be soon learn some of the newest techniques in gardening and plant cultivation after the creation of a new neighborhood agriculture initiative by a Boston College professor.
The professor, Mike Barnett, will be using a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to help local youths develop a gardening initiative using hydroponic growing, eventually opening a farmer’s market in the area.
Hydroponics agriculture grows plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil.
“Gardening is the ultimate hands-on science project, and the end result is absolutely delicious,” Barnett, of BC's Lynch School of Education, said in a statement. “This project takes to a new level our efforts to teach the city’s children about science, technology, engineering and math, as well as nutrition, health, and economics.”
The program, in partnership with Uphams Corner'sSalvation Army's Kroc Center and non-profit STEM Garden Institute, will begin this fall and involve up to 450 area youths, according to a statement from the school.
The teens along with mentors will help grow fruits and vegetables, providing produce to area markets and earning the students money. The program will also incorporate the latest technologies including vertical hydroponic systems; indoor, soil-free systems used for growing fruits and vegetables.
“Engaging youths in raising their own food, particularly urban youths, has been shown to be influential and effective in supporting the development of interest toward science, healthier eating habits, and supporting the development of critical thinking and analysis skills,” Barnett said in a statement. “Hydroponic technology allows us to engage youth in growing food and learning on a year-round basis.”