Elders, Youth Using Solar Energy, Rain Catchment to Bring Safe Water to Urban Gardens in Flint, Mich.

News updates: Kettering University students give back to Flint through science-related projects Oct. 15, 2018

Kettering students use grant to further Flint church's hoop house project Sept. 26, 2017

Growing Hope: Community gardens will benefit by solar-powered watering system Aug. 16, 2017

Student lead: Noah Lukins

Student major: Mechanical engineering

Lead levels are improving in many Flint, Mich., neighborhoods, but the water is still not safe without a filter. Tap water coming through hoses outside the home is not filtered, causing a risk of lead contamination in garden vegetables.

Collaborating community organizations have successfully created hoop house gardens in Flint and inspired some families to plant gardens of their own. Integrating rain catchment into the gardening process eliminates potential risks associated with lead in Flint water. These systems will employ rain catchment techniques, allowing irrigation without lead-tainted municipal water.

This project also includes training for youths and elders from Flint to assemble working solar panels from discarded solar cells, low-cost materials and homemade panels to power irrigation systems for community gardens. Including solar energy in this system effectively demonstrates a reduction of residential energy costs.

When this project year is complete, residents will have the skills necessary to begin farming and solar manufacturing businesses of their own, thereby insuring sustainability. The Flint Garden City Cooperative’s plan to launch community owned businesses adds to the project’s longevity.


  • Flint Community HELP Centers
  • Asbury Community Development Center