US (DE): University gets $300k grant to bolster vertical farm

Big plans are growing up, instead of out, at Delaware State University (DSU). The university recently received a $300,000 dollar grant to support its Vertical Agriculture and Sustainable Urban Ecosystems project. DSU was one of 15 institutions selected to receive the grant from The Propel Center. “Our project really embodies what they are moving forward in the areas of ag-tech. So, being one of the recipients in this first round was really great,” said Dean of DUS’s College of Agriculture, Science, and Technology Dr. Cherese Winstead.

The project centers around vertical farming. Instead of growing produce on sprawling farmland, it’s grown in towers. “It’s the intersection of agriculture and emerging technology that kind of integrates engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics, and all of that,” said Dr. Winstead.

But, it’s not just about the produce itself. Dr. Winstead says agricultural and STEM students will get to work together to study global issues, like food and water insecurity. “In our urban communities, it’s important for those students that are coming into the field of agriculture and STEM to understand what technologies look like to solve those problems where you do have a water shortage. That means that you kind of have to think outside of the box,” she said.

Looking ahead, Dr. Winstead says DSU students in the project will get to make an impact not only on campus but in Dover’s community as a whole. “Students who are coming in ag-tech will see how their impact can help with nutrition, the production of produce, and then after that, they’ll see themselves in entrepreneurship, where we actually show the local produce that was generated from the vertical farm is actually feeding into the local economy and the cafeterias in Del. State,” she said.

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