Skip to main content

Latest News (Cont.)

May 2019

The Off-Grid DC-Powered Laboratory has been up and running for two years!  We recently checked in with our partners at the Oasis Farm & Fishery to receive an update on the student and community programs they have been hosting at the site.  We were also curious about the groups who have visited the site from not just Pittsburgh, but from across the globe!  Here are some exciting statistics and additional updates that we are happy to share:

Student and Community Programs:

1) Field to Fork - (12 Students) High School Agribusiness Program (6-week Summer Program)
2) Better Food, Better Me - (86 Students over two years - 112 Sessions ) Elementary After- School Program teaching Urban Farming, Aquaponics, Alternative Energy, Stormwater Management and Environmental Science.
3) Gwen Girl’s - (15 Students for 14 sessions) Elementary and Middle After- School Program teaching Urban Farming, Aquaponics, Alternative Energy, Stormwater Management and Environmental Science.
4) Green, STEAM, and Play - (Approximately 125 Students over 3 years - 30 sessions) 3rd grade - 6th grade Summer program teaching Urban Farming, Aquaponics, Alternative Energy, Stormwater Management, Environmental Science and STEAM lessons.

Groups that have toured the facility include:

1) Chamber of Commerce of Bucaramanga, Columbia
2) Penn Future Solar Tour
3) Phipps Conservatory Staff
4) Society of Environmental Journalists Tour
5) University of Pittsburgh CPLE
6) Repair the World Tour
7) Chatham Sustainability leadership Academy
8) Heinz Youth Philanthropy Scholars
9) Duquesne University Enviromental Studies Class
10) Green Building Alliance Tour
11) Rouz Orlean Chef Farm Tour
12) Penn State (Main) Urban Agriculture Tour
13) Winchester Thurston/Grounded
14) Leadership Pittsburgh
15) Sierra Club

Group photo in front of solar panel pavilion in Homewood
Visit by the Chamber of Commerce of Bucaramanga, Columbia (September 2018)

Types of produce grown on site that have been used in the nearby Everyday Café or in the educational programs:

For the Everyday Café, they have grown - Spring Mix, Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Tomatoes, Peppers, Basil, Cucumbers, Beets, Radishes, and herbs. For the educational programs, they have also grown - Zucchini, Watermelon, Pumpkins, Turnips, String Beans, Collards, Cilantro, Mint, Oregano, Chives, Swiss Chard, Dill, African Eggplant, Okra, Black Eyed Peas, and Amaranth.  

Unexpected benefits of the off-grid laboratory have included: 

1) Connecting the Bioshelter to lessons around the environment. This has been a huge example of teaching the students about how the natural environment works by replicating it in the greenhouse.
2) A Farm Fundraiser Dinner, where they celebrated the first harvest of the tilapia with a chef preparing the fish in three different appetizers.
3) People from the community walking or driving past the off-grid laboratory and stopping to ask questions or to see the space.  It has become a space of community pride.

March 2017

On Thursday, March 16, 2017, on a cold and blustery day, we held an Opening Event Celebration of our Off-Grid DC-Powered Laboratory project at 7280 Fleury Way in Homewood, PA.  This event, which was sponsored by The Business of Humanity® Project and the Oasis Farm & Fishery Project, was attended by over 60 people representing local colleges, universities, non-profit organizations, foundations, corporations and government offices.  We were honored to have both County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto speak at this event and help us to dedicate an official plaque to mark this special occasion.

Please click on the slideshow link below to see exclusive photos of the event and reception, which was held at the nearby W.A.R.M. Center and catered by the Everyday Café, which recently opened in Homewood.

Opening Event - March 2017

In Spring 2016, we were proud to announce completion of the construction of an Off-Grid Direct Currect (DC) powered bio-shelter laboratory in Homewood!  Sponsored by the Henry L. Hillman Foundation Opportunity Fund, we were able to partner with the Bible Center Church, Oasis Farm & Fishery, the University of Pittsburgh, the Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration and the Swanson School of Engineering to bring this one-of-a-kind bio-shelter to the Homewood community.  We were able to create this project alongside EcoCraft Homes Inc. (General Contractor); Thoughtful Balance (Architects); SolarCell LLC (DC System Designers) and Energy Independent Solutions (EIS). 

This graphic describes in detail how the Direct Current Electrical System, the Rainwater Capture and Filtration System and the Aquaponics System work together to make the bio-shelter run!

Descriptive Graphic of Bioshelter in Homewood