ComEd Solar Spotlight for Latinx Heritage Month

On September 21st, we partnered with ComEd for their Solar Spotlight event for Latinx Heritage Month. 72 Latinx high schoolers from across the city joined us to learn about the intersection of hardware, software, solar power, and urban farming by building self-contained grow boxes designed to grow more than a pound of mushrooms each week.

Our good friend Justin Smith welcomed us in to this project! He developed environmental control units to optimize growing conditions for edible mushrooms for his company, Sojourn Fare. Read about Justin’s numerous other projects on his website!

At ComEd’s Solar Spotlight event, students worked in teams to assemble the mushroom boxes, which are powered off of solar panels. Shonali and Tiernan joined forces with Justin to develop NGSS-aligned curriculum to accompany the kits to the students’ schools. The boxes run off of a Raspberry Pi to control humidity, CO2 concentration, and light! Just add a mushroom substrate block and you’re ready to grow!


Students also had the opportunity to taste different mushrooms including oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, beech mushrooms, baby bellas, and more! Most of us never venture past White Button mushrooms on our pizza, but the world of fungi offers so much variety!