Following our last entry on Studio G’s NEWIRE presentation, we wanted to share a real-life example of how urban agriculture could work in action. Several years ago, Studio G began a project as a pro bono effort, combining an interest in sustainable cities with education. The result was the widely publicized Boston Latin School (BLS) Shared Green Roof Learning Center.
Initiated by a student group called the Youth Climate Action Network, the project began as a request for a “green roof” at Boston Latin School. But what does that mean exactly? For the students of BLS it meant vegetation, renewable energy, a cafeteria farm, an educational space and more.
Working closely with the students, Studio G helped develop a cutting-edge outdoor classroom design for applied learning. Once built, the rooftop farm will become a central element at the school, with a greenhouse, outdoor gardens and a small-scale orchard. A hands-on biology class could teach the students to grow fruit and vegetables, which may then be served in the school cafeteria during the year and contributed to local nonprofits like Food Project during the summer.
The collaborative effort between BLS and Studio G allows students to learn firsthand the dynamic relationship between good design, nutrition, education and sustainability. By gardening together, students will gain social support, confidence and an appreciation for the hard work required to bring food from field to table.
Other school districts are pursuing similar efforts. In Manhattan, PS 333 on the Upper West Side now has a rooftop greenhouse where students get hands-on experience in food production.
The Shared Green Roof Learning Center at BLS and similar projects have the potential to greatly impact students, faculty and the community, demonstrating the transformative and positive potential of urban agriculture and experiential learning.