Project Renewables Arts and Craft

Project Renewables Arts and Craft

Project Renewables Arts and Craft
A View of the solar arrays from atop the trash bin behind Mezzacello.

This is the project renewables arts and crafts topics we will be exploring in this summer camp. Crafts are subject to change.

  1. Make a pile battery

    • Make a battery of copper and zinc with a grapefruit electrolyte and potato capacitor.

  2. Make magnetic sand

    • Make sand with iron and ceramic, and using a powerful electromagnet to create magnetic sand.

  3. Make a copper spiderweb

    • Make a web with copper wire and a four dowels. Weave a web that will transmit a current from a battery to an LED light.

  4. Weave insulating rubber cover

    • Make an insulator with heat shrink hollow rubber string, cover copper wires and create an insulated wire that will transmit a 9-volt current.

  5. Make grounding rod art

    • Make a sculpture out of hollow copper tubing and wire, that will also serve as a grounding rod.

  6. Make a compass

    • Make a compass out of a tin jar with a tight plastic lid. Fill with alcohol with a magnetized iron brad on a floating cork.

  7. Make iron filings from dirt

    • Make an iron sieve for dry dirt and a powerful electromagnet. Create art on a paper plate.

  8. Make a bus fuze art pendant

    • Make a fuze from LEGOs and copper wire and hot glue.

  9. Make a spinning top generator

    • Make a magnetic base and a steel top that can power the oscillating top.

  10. Make a 9-volt horn

    • Make a horn from a 3D Printed horn and a 9-volt battery created with two AAA batteries and a copper connector.

  11. Make a 6-volt flashlight

    • Make a 6-volt battery with four D-Cell batteries and a copper and zinc connector. Attach the “battery” to an DC LED lamp.

  12. Make an ionizing water well

    • Make a 1 Quart jar water well with marbles and ball bearings that have been sterilized in alcohol. Set the jar on a speaker and fill with water to create sonic pulses that will pull heavy impurities to the bottom.

  13. Make a 6-volt telegraph

    • Make 2 6-volt battery with four D-Cell batteries and connect them with a metal switch and bit of wire. Send messages from one telegraph to another.

  14. Make a simple motor

    • Make a motor by rewiring a motor armature and attaching it to a 12-volt battery to induce an induction current.

  15. Make a decorative fan

    • Make a Savonius wind turbine that will spin with a persistent image that must be created.

  16. Make a cinema reel

    • Make a comic strip that will be applied to a spinning wheel. While the wheel spins a persistent image will appear.

  17. Make a motorized spin art

    • Make a spinning disk and spin it up, powered by a six-volt battery. Apply paints and dyes to create art as the disk spins.

  18. Make a dimmer switch

    • Make a variable voltage switch that will reduce current in measured amounts. Use the dimmer to send messages as morse or binary code.

Project BioChemical Arts and Crafts

Project BioChemical Arts and Crafts

Project Renewables Arts and Crafts
Sweet potatoes ready for harvest

This is my project BioChemical arts and crafts summer camp. Some projects are subject to change.

Project BioChemical Arts and Crafts.

  1. Make a solar flower

    • Make portraits of flowers with light responsive paper and sunlight.

  2. Make a leaf paper origami

    • Make paper from pressed flowers and leaves that have been dried. Treat dried leaves and flowers with alcohol and press into paper. Make an origami shape.

  3. Make a cricket condominium

    • Make a small colony of crickets with a tin box, sponge, egg carton, and feed. Decorate the condo.

  4. Make an herb wreath

    • Make a small wreath with grapevine and twine. Decorate the wreath with fresh herbs to dry them in the sun.

  5. Make a natural plant dye

    • Make a natural plant dye with various fruits and plants that transfer color. Use salts to set the color as a natural liquid pigment.

  6. Make a bamboo kaleidoscope

    • Make a cut bamboo kaleidoscope with a prism and a glass lens. Decorate the color wheel with natural dyes and melted wax crayons.

  7. Make a plant-dyed t-shirt

    • Make simple tie-dyed tshirts with the pigments created as a craft. Set the color with salts and allow to dry.

  8. Make fertilizer kits

    • Make small bags of fertilizer sealed with heated wire closures. Add a straw and stopper then heat shrink the straw to the plastic.

  9. Make a one quart fertilizer kits

    • Make a mixture of fertilizer. Fill the fertilizer kits with your fertilizer.

  10. Make a 1 Qt water purifier

    • Make a water purifier with a 1 quart mason jar. Add filtering material and a funnel made of plastic.

  11. Make paper mache nesting dolls

    • Make a nested doll mold. Create hollow nesting dolls that will fit into each other. Decorate them.

  12. Make an ecosystem poem

    • Make 14 magnetic words about ecosystems. Create poems and haikus with them by matching them with madlibs.

  13. Make fertilizer how-to cards

    • Make cards with Lewis Diagrams that explain how fertilizer works and how to create them.

  14. Make sugar balls ornaments

    • Make a delicate sugar globe by growing crystals in a high concentration sugar solution.

  15. Make a teacup diorama

    • Make a small delicate biome in a glass teacup. Create a story about your biome.

  16. Make a plaster and seed LEGO wall

    • Make LEGO molds filled with planting matrix made of moss, fertilizer, sand and seeds. Build an herb wall by stacking LEGO “bricks”.

  17. Make a planet with tectonic plates

    • Make a globe from an inflatable ball out of paper mache. Create continents and islands.

  18. Make a soil design cycle

    • Make a paper plate design cycle that gives data about soil health.

Summer Camps 2022

Summer Camps 2022

Summer Camps 2022
Potential Campers in 2022?

Summer Camps 2022

I am happy to say that #UrbanAgTech summer camps are coming back in 2022! I have a whole series of camps planned around BioTech and Animal Vet Tech, Bioengineering and Automation, Renewable Energy, and BioChemistry and Composting.

Check out my summer Camps 2022 page here at under the events tab. Registration will be opening this month and the price is very reasonable. Until the registration link is live, register your interest here and the be the first on the list for these popular and exciting camps!

I will look forward to seeing you this summer at Mezzacello. You can learn all about last summer’s camps at the following links!

Chicken TV, Coop Tech, and Safety

Chicken TV and Safety

The security systems at Mezzacello are growing increasingly more sophisticated and useful. I call this Chicken TV, Coop Tech, and Safety. I can monitor activity anywhere and at any time in 1080HD and infrared.

That last piece the infrared part is critical. I need to be able to make out details in the dark, as that is where the predators hang out. I have lost enough to predators, I am stepping this system up to insure I do not lose others.

Infrastructure Improvements for Education

These additions are also necessary for the #UrbanAgTech summer camps I will be running here at Mezzacello this summer. The camps are Project BioTech and Project BioEngineering.

This particular improvement will help in the ProjectBioTech camp, where campers will study animal health and sanitation, and monitor and treat animals as needed. They will diagnose and monitor animals using these systems as well as the rabbit cam coming online next week.

This improvement will also be a part of Project BioEngineering as campers will be extending this capability with a portable sensor array that will monitor, sound, infrared body measurements, motion, humidity and the presence of ammonia and methane in the coop and sound appropriate alarms.

The presence of a predator in the coop will quickly be Identified by it’s motion, body temperature, and the sound of fear and chaos in the animals. This will sound an alarm in audible and ultrasound frequencies as well as activate an intense light to scare predators away.

It is going to be a fun summer, I think. Butu mostly it’s going to be a safe and exciting summer. Everyone is going to learn something, even me!

Summer Camp sign up starts now. Go to Events, Summer Camps and choose the camp you are interested in. Or visit the PAST Foundation and sign up there!

Ohio Farm Bureau 2021 Annual Report

Ohio Farm Bureau 2021 Annual Report

Ohio Farm Bureau 2021 Annual Report
Mezzacello Urban Farm in the 2021 Ohio Farm Bureau Annual Report

I was surprised and delighted that Mezzacello Urban Farm was a highlight of the Ohio Farm Bureau 2021 Annual Report. I really loved working with them last year. And working with the kids, parents, schools, communities, and businesses was a privilege and learning opportunity for me.

The OFB ExploreAg Program Rocks!

ExploreAg at OFB

I want to highlight the OFB ExploreAg program. I have been involved with this program for a few years and I have met some amazing young people in this program!

They continue to serve as inspirations and mentors to me on social media and at OFB events. These bright young ag-minded people inspire me to look at issues and problems in unique and innovative ways.

If you can at all, get involved with or support this program. It is such an important and ongoing program and is very dear to my heart – and mission – at Mezzacello.

Local Collaboration and Support

A huge shout out to The PAST Foundation for serving as my fiscal sponsor while I am waiting for my 501c3 status to clear. Also a shoutout to Bronzeville Agricademy, and Highland youth Garden. They kept me grounded and extended my mission greatly, even during pandemic.

It makes me proud to see what I did in print. It transformed Mezzacello completely. And through that transformation, I am committed to continuing to leverage that grant opportunity to create meaningful change in my community, and around the world as well.

Global Reach

Last year I shared the research and programming I was doing at Mezzacello with global audiences through the UN Food Challenge and through the Invent Future Global Innovation Field Trip; 200 kids from 16 countries all around the world. That was thrilling.

Growth, Health, and Change

But mostly it was thrilling that I get to leverage my unique health crisis, my passion for Applied STEM and my home to make meaningful and replicable change.

Change in my neighbor, my city, my region, nation and ultimately the world. I am a very lucky person and I am ready for even more transformation!

This year, I am continuing to innovate, run summer camps and as a member of the Columbus CEO Magazine’s #Future50 2022 cohort, I expect even more innovation and change!

UrbanAgTech Camps at Mezzacello In June

UrbanAgTech Camps at Mezzacello in June

Exploring Ag Tech, Careers, and Science

How many dolls are in that model of reality?! Can it get any smaller?!


This past summer 2021 I had the pleasure of hosting UrbanAgTech Camps at Mezzacello in June! This camp was a blast and the students captured my heart and taught me so much about teaching kids at Mezzacello. But we did have some crazy adventures!

In one of the early design challenges, the students were given resources to build a secure cage for the baby chicks that were arriving the next day. The students designed and built this mobile habitat and they were so excited to put it together. The kicker was that the instructions were in Piglatin (a simple language algorithm) that surprisingly, middle school kids do not have a lot of experience with.

These students designed and built this mobile habitat for a clutch of baby chicks.

People Plan, But Life Adapts

There was a plan, of course, but teaching 12 kids on an urban farm in the summer during a pandemic has a way of changing plans. The great news is that even our pivots were fun! We built a mobile vet tech hospital, a mobile whiteboard computer lab, and a modified soil testing unit for soil on Mars. It was a great deal of fun!

It was an interesting challenge working with kids in a camp that is also your home. It feels like I never left, and other times everyone else did. Like the time it rained and all the kids called their parents and went home.

You don’t stop working on a farm because it’s raining! You thank the environment and ecosystems for the rain and keep working!

Jim Bruner

We were able work in the six main areas of learning and research! We divided the 12 kids into three teams; Team Red Roses (BioTech) Team Blue Ocelot (Systems Design and implementation) Team Duck (Engineering). The kids were into it, but I discovered that you need to TEACH the other adults in the room, the other 1,000 one needs to know about an urban farm.

Let’s Pivot this camps PEOPLE!

The Research and Products

BioTech/Vet Tech
  • Sanitation
  • Health and Safety Impacts
  • Animal Needs
  • Feed and Water
  • Water Quality
  • Identifying Parasites
  • Microbiologics
  • Planting strategies
  • Food Collection and Prep

Systems Design
  • Computer Development
  • Data Strategies
  • Statistics
  • Coding and Robotics
  • Building Instructions
  • Design Challenge Implementation
  • Testing and Tool Cleaning
  • Robot Deployment

  • Design and Tools
  • Bioreactor Schematics
  • Soil Test Facility
  • Maintenance
  • Door and Sensor Deployment
  • Security and Maintenance
  • CAD and Schematics
  • Robotic Maintenance

Teams Duck, Red Roses, Blue Ocelot Building out a mobile computer lab on a vinyl whiteboard tarp.

The kids and the teams all came together very well. The kids learned and more importantly were able to apply what they learned to solve problems and devise solutions on the fly. That made me very proud.

The most flattering aspect of the camp was the fact that the kids wanted to share what they were learning. Each kid was eager to give tours of Mezzacello to their parents at the end of the day. That was really powerful to watch them explain systems they implemented or things they had designed, or the animals and sanitation systems they cared for.

I was amazed at how excited and smart these middle school kids were about science and the farm at Mezzacello! It was the most delightful tour! They were so eager to share what they’s learned.

Deb Lefman, Neighbor

The teams were also encouraged to film a three minute video to the next camp. In this video they offered advice to the next campers, what their favorite and least favorite part5s of the camps were, and finally what they want their careers to be in the future – based on their experience. that was a delightful and surprising.

I hope to run this camp again. There were lessons learned and successes, but mostly there was fun. See how Camp Two progressed!

UrbanAgTech Summer Camp 2021 Was Brought to Life By Mezzacello, Ohio Farm Bureau, and the PAST Foundation.

Mezzacello Urban Farm

The PAST Foundation

The Ohio Farm Bureau

UrbanAgTech Camps at Mezzacello In July

UrbanAgTech Camps at Mezzacello In July

Play, Animals, Robotics, and Coding all in one photo!

During summer 2021, Mezzacello played host to a series of summer camps hosted jointly by Mezzacello, The PAST Foundation, and the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation. The camps were designed to promote career exploration and applied STEM in middle school kids AND explore the future of food on Earth, the Moon and on Mars. The camps were called UrbanAgTech Camps at Mezzacello and this one was called UrbanAgTech Camps at Mezzacello in July.

If you calm down, you will work better.


There were two camps this summer, these are photos from the July camp (Click here for the June camp photos and story!) This camp was focused on career options and the STEM of agriculture. I am fairly certain the kids had a good time and that they learned a lot!

Applied STEM With an Emphasis On Applied

The really cool thing about this camp is that the kids learned to apply the STEM lessons they learned. One of the students worked with another to create a map of Mezzacello in Minecraft. Two others collaborated on an isometric map of the gardens using drones and GIS.

I thought I wanted to be a mortician when I grow up, but on Mars, a body is going to be worth more as carbon and compost than as a grave, I guess.

Student in June UrbanAgTech Camp

A big part of the goal of these camps was to identify and think about careers that were related to farming without just the obvious planting and harvesting. The pivots and journeys these kids took was delightful and surprising. I had an entire white board in the mobile classroom filled with 51 career opportunities that these kids identified.

The Activities For This Camp

Team Bio
  • Sanitation and Health
  • Vet Tech
  • Ecosystems
  • Biomes
  • Compost and Manure
  • Care and Feeding
  • Evaluating Animal Health
  • Teaching and Sharing

Team The STEMs
  • Robotics and Code
  • System Configuration (Raspberry Pi)
  • Documentation
  • Measurements
  • Map Making
  • Data Input
  • Data Tracking
  • Communications

Team Bob The Builder
  • Building and Designing Structures
  • Coordinating Teams on Projects
  • Planning and Modeling
  • Training and Support
  • Research and Documentation
  • Minecraft Maps Support
  • Power and Water Configuration
  • Building and Maintenance

Summer camps should be fun, challenging and exciting. They should empower children (and adults) to want to change the world for the better. I believe this was a great example of all three.

UrbanAgTech Summer Camp 2021 Was Brought to Life By Mezzacello, Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, and the PAST Foundation.

Mezzacello Urban Farm

The PAST Foundation

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation

Compost, Soil Enrichment, and Garden Infrastructure

Compost, Soil Enrichment, and Garden Infrastructure

As winter winds down and the days grow longer, I am back out in the garden beds getting ready for the growing season. This year I am experimenting with compost. Specifically in place composting, popularly called “Lasagna Gardening” or Compost, Soil Enrichment, and Garden Infrastructure.

In the past I have maintained separate compost bins at Mezzacello. This is convenient, but has a serious drawback: I don’t turn them. So it takes extra long for the materials to break down.

I produce copious amounts of biomass here at Mezzacello,  but I am not leveraging it as effectively as I should be. So I am turning to nature and the animals to do it for me.

A New Direction, Down

Over the fall and winter I was watching the chickens in the garden beds. They are master turners. I watched them for hours running around with their little dinosaur bodies scratching and pecking.

Over time I noticed that in the course of a day, they turned over the entire 720 square feet of my gardens. They are prolific scratchers. I have all that compost and manure just sitting in bins. They could be turning that into the garden beds for me.

So I started doing some research (my favorite past time at Mezzacello) and I rediscovered in place mulching and composting. It’s really simple. Also one of my favorite things.

Start by setting down a layer of paper or cardboard to block any weeds. Then on top of this spread manure and compost, then a layer of peat moss, then a layer of chopped straw, a layer of shredded leaves, then finally a top layer of dirt or soil. I’ll let this sit in the sun and rain and cook for a month. Over a season it will break down and I will plant transplants directly into this mesh.

When the season is complete, I’ll add more compost and leaves and let the chickens scratch over the fall and winter. This will require me to do some raking, to keep the beds nice and clean, but it’s easier than hauling compost from the bins in the alley and behind the greenhouse.

I am keeping detailed records of the water capacity and nutritional aspects of the in place composting, similar to the way I tested the “hugelkultur” gardens from last season. I’m interested to see how efficient this system will be.

I am also planning a week-long summer camp with some kids to build a simple lasagna garden and track the emergence of life in the form of bacteria, worms, and insects. That ought to be fun.