Mezzacello In Columbus CEO Future 50 Class of 2022
We are super proud at the news that Mezzacello is in Columbus CEO’s Future 50 Class of 2022. This honor is conferred to a group of individuals from throughout the city with a vision for how to make the future of Columbus better and brighter. Mezzacello’s vision for the future of urban farming was included, but that mission doesn’t end in Columbus, but it does live here.
The mission of Mezzacello has always been Grow, Sustain, Maintain, and Explain. Rick and I were determined that this mission be extendable to scale. That means not just the neighborhood, the city, but to the state, regionally, nationally, globally, and eventually interplanetary. There is no limit to this mission by design; just good science and applied STEM.
Last year Mezzacello ran programming all summer. In addition to those camps (co-sponsored by the PAST Foundation, Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation and Bronzeville Growers Market) We also ran a UN sponsored water security and food security design challenge and presented three times to 16 countries around the world on the research and innovation we’ve been developing here as part of Invent Future Global’s Global Innovation Field Trip (GIFT).
Multifaceted Interests and Missions
It’s fairly common for people to be confused about what I do for a living. I hear all the time, Are you a teacher or a farmer, or an inventor, or an artist. The answer to all of these is yes. I work for the PAST Foundation as my “day job”. Mezzacello really came about not only because of my health issues, it also evolved as an extension to the work I had started at the PAST Foundation.
Honestly, I don’t know many people whose personal and professional lives bleed into each other like mine do. I consider myself blessed and lucky. The work I started doing in 2014 with PAST was so fascinating to me, it became a passion for me personally as well. I was working as a project manager for a grant called STEM Outdoor Innovation Labs (SOIL). My job was advising schools how to build ecology and ag-focused centers at their schools.
Applied STEM for the Win
There were so many great ideas and strategies that were being explored, bust schools just couldn’t maintain the trajectory. They lacked infrastructure and commitment throughout the summer to really develop the systems and strategies. By creating a SOIL facility at Mezzacello I could continue to experiment and develop the ideas and strategies and innovate further.
Each season I explore a new facet of community gardens, biotechnology, agriculture, robotics, and bio and technology systems integration. The last two years it has been in soil health and renewability. This season will be advanced robotics and alternative power generation. All of this will be critical if we want to create sustainable and fertile food oases in our cities.