A large subset of the world’s population finds themselves in a crucial state of food insecurity, and affordable, healthy resources are often scarce. As global warming continues to increase, access to sufficient nourishment decreases and heavily affects more vulnerable populations such as communities in Philadelphia and South Jersey. Although there have been community gardens installed in many food-insecure communities, there are still ways to go, such as developing a year-round maintenance plan.
50 students from Rowan REAL, faculty members, and five volunteers, will work alongside The Bullock Garden Project to further develop community gardens, including a garden at their university. This project is part of the Environmental Competition by EPICS in IEEE and in partnership with the UEF.
Rowan REAL is a university organization that focuses on the environment as they maintain a community garden that provides food to the university’s pantry to support food-insecure students. They have partnered with The Bullock Garden Project, a project that addresses the needs of food-insecure communities through community gardens and other educational projects. Together, the partnership aims to better the community gardens at the university, elementary schools, and other communities.
This project intends to develop micro-green hydroponic units, aerial drones for seeding, monitoring, and harvesting, a simple system to preserve food, educational outreach opportunities, and a modular water system, designed for gardens not close to a water source. Each of these units can be applied to different community projects to better them significantly.
The team of students is set to develop two prototypes of each system, while the Bullock Garden Project will focus on developing educational modules to promote community education and interest. Materials such as Lego Mindstorm EV3 kits with renewable energy add-on will be purchased to continue the educational purpose of the original project. This collaboration will require constant communication to ensure that both the community and students are benefiting from this project.
EPICS in IEEE has granted them $8,800 to start upgrading these community gardens and creating new educational lessons. This collaboration hopes to minimize food insecurity through low-maintenance community gardens while increasing educational outreach opportunities.