Addressing Food Insecurity

Low Cost Climate Control for Plant Propagation

In Massachusetts, as of 2010, over 700,000 people face hunger and over 500,000 people use food banks and pantries to supplement their diets. Increasing local agricultural production is one of several strategies that policy advocates believe will strengthen the food system safety net in Massachusetts. 

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A major challenge for small farmers is the short growing season in New England. Through seed propagation, farmers grow plants in green houses during winter months and transplant them in warmer weather, speeding up time to market and increasing yields. However, maintaining a steady climate in the greenhouse is difficult. An effective, low-cost system for monitoring and adjusting climate control systems has the potential to allieve this difficulty.

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Teams have engaged with area farmers to understand challenges and requirements in climate control. They are piloting their climate control system, SproutWave. SproutWave will allow farmers to monitor temperature and humidity from their smart phones and to remotely turn on/off fans, heaters or humidifiers as needed.

Project work on SproutWave includes:

  • Developing the SproutWave smartphone interface.
  • Building the hardware needed to relay wireless signals affordably.
  • Developing preliminary financial projections.
  • Developing a marketing and sales strategy.

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