ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A unique project aimed at improved science education, better nutrition, urban food production and economic development officially kicked off Wednesday afternoon in the Shaw neighborhood of south St. Louis.
The Green House Venture, a new urban resource and education center to be built at the corner of Lawrence and DeTonty Street, will be an 8,000 square-foot science, education and outreach facility. It has a 501 (c) (3) designation and its partners include St. Louis University and the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Also partnering with the Green House Venture is the Urban Education Alliance District made up of four distinct and diverse elementary schools in the area: Tower Grove Christian Academy, Mullanphy Investigative Learning Center, St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. Louis Language Immersion School.
“The Green House Venture program combines sustainability and science, education and health in a hands-on learning environment,” says St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “It’s a great example of innovation. Fish tanks, a greenhouse, classrooms, a teaching lab. All the components to draw young people to the marvels of science.”
Expanding upon that, Dr. Peter Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, asked the crow how the U.S. could be the top scientific country in the world while being so poor in science education.
“It’s really a national embarrassment,” Raven continued. “We need to do a lot better. The schools here (today) are doing a lot better. This (project) will not only be a great way to highlight progress in the neighborhood, but to encourage them. STEM education and the kind of thing that will go on here will help us.”
Dr. Donald Stump of St. Louis University said he and colleagues from nine departments had been talking about a sustainable greenhouse program that focused on children, where they could see plants and fish growing together in a balanced ecosystem; where the sun’s energy heated the facility and provided part of its power; where water pumped from underground cooled in the summer and heated in the winter; a place where science and technology could be introduced to children.
“We also wanted to bend the curve on the epidemic of obesity among the disadvantaged youth in our community,” Stump said. “The Green House will contribute its plants and fish to free and reduced-lunch programs in the public schools through a distribution system developed by SLU’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“Think of the Green House as a farm down the street, feeding children who too often eat out of convenience stores and fast food restaurants.”
According to Thomas Purcell, president of the Green House Venture Board of Directors, the facility will feature aquaponic growing techniques involving fish breeding, plant fertilization from fish tanks, a weather station, ozone garden, shade trellis, and pollinator garden.
The project’s estimated cost is $4 million and fundraising is underway. The facility is expected to be complete and operational by 2019.
Pictures and story by Debbie Monterrey, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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