By Annalies Corbin and Jim Bruner
What many people do not know is that the urban garden project at Mezzacello was started as a direct result of Jim Bruner’s experiences with the design and development of those 19 STEM Outdoor Innovation Labs (SOIL) around the state (last weeks blog post!). This is that moment when work and life happily collide. At PAST we pride ourselves on helping the tribe bring their inner creativity and passions into the organization as catalysts for innovation. That is exactly what Jim did when he was married his work on the SOIL project to PAST’s desire to highlight food, food safety, food scarcity, equity, culture and Agriculture all together. Jim turned his home in Columbus’ Olde Towne East into Mezzacello, an Urban Garden and outdoor classroom for the community. He partnered Mezzacello with PAST’s food science program NOURISH and voila, #ProjectMartian was born.
The original plan for #ProjectMartian was to create compost-enriched beds for PAST Summer Programs and community Maker Mania programming. The five beds are 2.4×1.8m (8’x6’) with a solar-powered watering system, two 2000 L (528 gallon) rain cachements, and some integrated robotics. One of the beds would be devoted to building chemically accelerated compost using enzymes along with brown and green biomaterials (more on this later). The infrastructure was to be put into place to power water irrigation and delivery as well as Agribots (robots deployed in a Ag setting) to tend to basic plants with low-needs.
A good portion of this work was about developing and documenting alongside the students the processes of innovation that can be achieved in multiple settings. In this case the query was, “Can we create #ZeroDirt beds via a repeatable process that can be utilized in almost any urban environment?”.
A good portion of this work was about developing and documenting alongside the students the processes of innovation that can be achieved in multiple settings. In this case the query was, “Can we create #ZeroDirt beds via a repeatable process that can be utilized in almost any urban environment?” So Gentleman Farmer Jim got to work!
Structural changes that were made to the SOIL garden beds at PAST in preparation for #ProjectMartian included:
To be clear: These beds were not just dirt; They are what is called a “lasagna garden” (due to the layering) and over time it has become the soil.
The same principles that were applied at Mezzacello for restarting the ecosystem for growing food were applied at the PAST Innovation Lab location. The work, technology and inspiration from SOIL that had influenced Mezzacello was now returning home.
Check back next week for #ProjectMartian: Chapter 2 – COVID19 Course Correction!
The Columbus Foundation:
Scotts Miracle Gro:
City of Columbus
Olde Towne East