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September 6, 2023

UMass Chan to build hydroponic freight farm

A building with a sign that reads "UMass Chan Medical School" behind two trees PHOTO | Courtesy of UMass Chan Medical School UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester

UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester is building a community hydroponic farm that will create three tons of produce each year. The Wellness Farm is expected to open in summer 2024, with construction beginning in the spring.

The 40-foot hydroponic farm is intended to serve as a community access point to UMass Chan, and live out the medical school’s commitment to helping local residents access nutritious food, according to a Tuesday announcement from UMass Chan.

The construction of the farm will make use of a $420,000 Food Security Infrastructure grant from the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The office gave 165 grants for fiscal year 2024.

UMass Chan is in partnership with Worcester nonprofit 2Gether We Eat, a youth hydroponic farming initiative, to ensure that the produce grown is properly distributed to families in the Worcester area, according to the announcement. It will be staffed by volunteers at the nonprofit and the medical school approximately 20 hours per week.

When complete, the farm will use less than five gallons of water per day and will have an on-site solar array to power it, according to the announcement. It will be located at 382 Plantation St on the UMass Chan campus.

The produce from the farm will be split between food pantries at Worcester Public Schools, the Max Baker Resource Center, a UMass Chan initiative to provide food to students in need, and to UMass Chan staff members.

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