Earth Shot Prize for Plum Island?

This international event honors green technology advances worldwide that could address local challenges.

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Editor’s note:This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship and leadership coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

Last Friday after a busy week in Boston as Prince William and Princess Kate met with Mayor Michelle Wu and Gov.-Elect Maura Healy, went to a Celtics game and toured innovative businesses like Greentown Labs, an incubator for environmentally oriented startups they announced the winners of the Earth Shot Prize.

The Earth Shot Prize was designed to find and grow the solutions that will repair our planet this decade and to regenerate the place we all call home in the next 10 years. It was a “green carpet” event with younger and older generation of performers on the stage with Billie Eilish and Annie Lennox performing at the ceremony and Prince William-founded environmental organization awarding $1.2 million prize to five winners.

Even those skeptical of the British royal family’s global position, might admit this event had glamor with the Princess in a high fashion green gown, and serious promise for the future of our Earth.

The overall winner in the “protect and restore nature” category was Kheyti, an Indian startup, that has developed a simple solution that is already having a considerable impact. Its Greenhouse-in-a-Box is designed for small-hold farmers and the crops they grow, offering shelter from unpredictable elements and destructive pests. Kheyti also trains and supports farmers to ensure their greenhouse is as effective as possible. The results are dramatic.

Plants in the greenhouse require 98 percent less water than those outdoors and yields are seven- times higher. Ninety percent cheaper than a standard greenhouse, they are more than doubling farmers’ incomes, helping them invest more in their farms and their children’s education. Using less water and fewer pesticides, they are protecting the planet too. It might be an innovation that part time New England farmers might check out to add to their own income.

But it was earlier in the week when we heard that the Royals had visited Greentown Labs that our antenna went up and we began to relate it to our ACES Newburyport foundation story. When the Newburyport Clean Tech Center [NCTC] nonprofit was formed a number of years ago, Greentown Labs was one of the first places we visited to gain insights into the evolving incubator. ACES today is the same non-profit that was operating as NCTC back then.

One finalist “LIVING SEAWALLS” developed in Australia attaches artificial marine-friendly habitat panels to existing structures to help sea life thrive. Sea defenses like walls, jetties, and groins are fitted with habitat panels which are cleverly designed. Resulting in 36% more marine life after just two years growing, adhering to the surfaces, with further increases expected through time. Many species of invertebrates and seaweed, as well as multiple species of fish thrive among the panels. So when we looked closer this one stood out as something our friends like State Sen. Bruce Tarr and the Merrimack River Beach Alliance and allies like Storm Surge and Blue Ocean might want to investigate. This one might deserve vetting or a small pilot for use locally.

It’s not too difficult to envision our Merrimack jetties and Boston harbor seawalls dampening more wave action, attracting more fish and growing seaweed that can sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Green technology was at work for this advance in Australia. Why not here? With the large-scale dredging of the Merrimack River underway both for navigation and as a sand source to protect Plum Island from sea level rise, this additional possibility for the future could be implemented with relevant technological advances as financing opportunities arise.

Because ACES tries to relate global phenomenon to what we can be doing locally to help the cause of climate this year’s Earth Shot prize seems to offer lots of food for thought. You might like to explore the Earth Shot web site ( and if you see something you’d like to help out with as part of acting locally on climate then contact us and sign up for our newsletter and we’ll try to connect you to others of like mind. Why not dive in and work with us to help.

This column was coordinated by ACES a youth corps member, Ana Satir. She asks, if you care about issues like these and would like to learn more and possibly do a bit more or have any questions, please send an email to To learn more about ACES and its Initiatives, visit

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