HEDI’s Student Ecological Design Competition Finalists

We are excited to announce our five finalist teams, selected by our judges from a very competitive field of entries from many Baltimore-area universities. Each will build a prototype, model, or rendering of their Food Systems solution for display in MSE Library’s beautiful Gallery Q on the JHU Homewood campus later this spring.

For details, email ecodesign@jhu.edu to be added to our mailing list!


In the KidsCook program, community elders teach classes to elementary schoolers and their parents on how to prepare affordable, healthy, seasonal food. After class, everyone gets to enjoy the meal they’ve learned how to make. KidsCook will be held in community centers or schools in Baltimore’s healthy food priority areas (formerly known as food deserts). KidsCook simultaneously improves food access and food literacy while also addressing the food environment and food and health. Educating parents and kids together will help spark community dialogue about food and nutrition and set the stage for healthy eating habits in the next generation.

The F Word

A long history of racist policies (including redlining, restrictive covenants, and discriminatory zoning laws) has created volatile spaces, devoid of fresh fruits and vegetables. In turn, healthier and organic food options have been rebranded as expensive, “for white folks,” and inaccessible to marginalized communities. Food in Baltimore has always been political. And now it’s time to leverage this politicization to call for effective change. The F Word seeks to redefine food by embedding healthier options, food education modules, and community building exercises into the center of food halls, which often house vendors selling cheap, fried foods. We aim to construct a physical space for healthy food lovers, activists, and connoisseurs to display their skills and share their passions in the middle of Northeast Market.

Fridge to Food

One of the primary causes for food waste is a lack of food and meal planning. Fridge to Food is a mobile platform designed to alleviate this issue by encouraging users to cook food based on what is already in their homes. Our app starts by creating a virtual fridge for every user, which can be populated by simply snapping a photo of a grocery store receipt. From there, we will curate recipes from the web that are based on ingredients already present in a user’s fridge. Users will be able to set notifications that will alert them when food in their fridge is on the verge of expiry. With this platform, we hope to equip users with the ability to maximize the utility of food purchased at grocery stores and create a level of awareness surrounding their meal planning.  Looking to the future, we see Fridge to Food becoming an essential tool in reducing food waste, empowering our users to “eat smart and waste less.”


Bethel Street Farm Lab (BSFL) is a street garden in Oliver Neighbor started by community organizer Earl Johnson to combat Baltimore food deserts. Earl is often the only person that maintains the garden, largely out of his own pocket, so that community members can pick fresh food for free. Earl expressed to our team that garden maintenance is becoming too expensive and that he may have to cut back on certain crops. Our project, Seedling, is a cost-saving strategy that will expand instead of reduce BSFL’s impact on food deserts. After conducting a survey about fresh food access with 30 Oliver residents, we developed Seedling, a hydroponics system. Hydroponics is a more cost and time-effective farming technique than conventional gardening because it uses water instead of soil to deliver nutrients to plants. Our team is working with Earl to build a greenhouse that will house several Seedling units and improve his garden’s cost-effectiveness. We are seeking grant funding to build the greenhouse. We are also close to finishing a website where we’ll sell Seedling units to consumers. The online revenue will be used to fund the development and future maintenance of the greenhouse.

UBMore Grow Lab

UBmore Grow Lab, is a platform to create an indoors food production system with “scalability, rapid deployment, affordability, and adaptable growing conditions” in mind. In addition, using appropriate technology, the system will strive for carbon neutral, “cradle-to-cradle” and zero-waste solutions for growing healthy food. The UBmore Grow Lab will be the foundation of a collaborative urban agriculture research and development initiative that expands beyond building, designing and perfecting a sustainable and modular food production system in a controlled environment. Other outcomes may include various spaces for growing, including roof tops, green walls, community gardens and farms, as well as the training of urban farm technicians. The initial design prototype for the HEDI Ecological Design Competition is a semi-automated indoor smart hydroponic production module. It features an environmentally controlled grow chamber with LED lighting and remote sensors and will display real-time conditions in the unit.

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