Pueblo Makes visits IFIZ

On 15 October 2019, Pueblo Makes visited IFIZ, the Indoor Farming Innovation Zone, near East High. Dr Kelly Gehlhoff hosted the group, wrote the following report, and provided the photo. See the I Will Projects for more information.

First people were encouraged to walk around the “food oasis” or indoor growing demonstration and activate their five senses and ask any questions that come to mind. Then we settled into the meeting space and Alice Hill, founder of The I WILL Projects gave her background story for the organization and this project that was inspired by her nephew, Will, who lost his battle with mental illness and how he wanted a chance to have a horticultural job that might help him reconnect with nature and himself. His loss prompted her quest to create an aquaponics demonstration project to provide unique education. The I WILL Projects has outreach beyond IFIZ, including The Eye of Survival play and Hospice education.

Dr. Kelly explained how the IFIZ (The Indoor Farming Innovation Zone) represents a mix of DIY-style agriculture technology and small-scale industrial level greenhouse or indoor growing technologies placed together in an attempt to demonstrate closed-loop system design – then Nate Miller gave his testimony about the word INNOVATE, including how it is instrumental in the Maker’s Movement and how he has hybridized vertical farming hydroponic technology with aquaponics systems. His work here really represents the STEAM-based approach to education and providing mentorship for engineering students at Central High last year he helped them walk through a rapid prototyping process. Discussion of how the 3-D printing and laser engraving tools made it possible to evolve designs very quickly was followed by questions from the audience about how to expand this concept throughout Pueblo. The SBDC and SCEDD are working together to bring resources like technical or business planning support that will make it easier for people in the future to know how to bring innovative products to market. The group celebrated news of Pueblo winning the Etsy grant to help fund some of this Makers’ momentum. It is an exciting time to be a part of the maturing creative economy and entrepreneurial eco-system.

For more information on IFIZ please visit www.iwillprojects.com or email the team at ifizlab@gmail.com  or call Cheryl Anderson at 719-778-6558

The I WILL Projects Team: Executive Director – Cheryl Anderson (left), Education Specialist — Susan Finzel-Aldred (right), Founder – Alice Hill (top right), Grow System Designer – Nate Miller (top right) Not pictured: Sustainability Consultant  – Dr. Kelly Gehlhoff, Intern/System Design and Maintenance – Isaiah Aragon, Intern/Education Leadership – Bri Heifner, Executive Assistant – Sandy Davisson, IFIZ Intern – Sara Davisson

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