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NSF Grant Will Support Barnett's Work


By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: Nov. 15, 2012

In addition to his honor as Massachusetts Professor of the Year, Lynch School of Education Associate Professor Michael Barnett also has been awarded a $250,000 National Science Foundation grant to support his work with inner-city youth on agricultural projects.

Barnett has partnered with the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center in Dorchester and the non-profit STEM Garden Institute to teach 450 Dorchester youths and teens how to use innovative, soil-free gardening technology to grow fruits and vegetables and then sell the harvest at local farmers’ markets.

The after-school initiative, which will serve 300 students in the fourth through sixth grades and another 150 high school students, is the largest of its kind for youths in the city’s history and promises to not only teach valuable lessons about science and health, but also give students the chance to earn a percentage of the proceeds.

This week, Barnett, the principal investigator for the NSF grant, the Kroc Center and the Boston-based STEM Garden Institute launched the out-of-school program using the latest technology, known as vertical hydroponic systems – in this case, multi-tiered plastic garden beds where ceramic beads anchor plants as they are nourished with water, fertilizer and grow lights.