GROW is a 5,000-square-foot pavilion and an acre of beautiful outdoor space. In the GROW Pavilion and Gallery, not only will you learn about your food’s journey from farm to table, you’ll learn the scientific processes that turn seeds into towering plants. Discover the story of agriculture and the many ways technology is shaping the agricultural landscape.
Are the Bees Buzzing over Winter?
Fall is a nerve-wracking time for honeybee keepers, who often fret about whether their bees have enough honey reserves to survive the winter or whether mites have decimated their bee populations. Bees will typically only leave their hive when the weather is pleasant (at least in the 50Fs and sunny), so it’s hard to walk by a hive with seemingly no activity and wonder what is going on in there.
What’s GROWing On this Winter?
Garlic is planted in the fall at the same time you’d plant flower bulbs like tulips. We planted garlic saved from this year’s harvest back in October, and they’ve since shot up short little shoots. Individual cloves that you would otherwise use for cooking are spaced out every 4”-6” and buried pointy side up a couple inches beneath the soil. Once planted, the garlic begins growing roots and then goes dormant over winter.
Although you can technically plant garlic in the spring, you will get bigger cloves with fall planting. Garlic needs the chill of wintry weather to stress the seed and stimulate it to divide into separate cloves that form a full head. Fun fact: The fancy word for this process is vernalization.
Once spring arrives, garlic will snap out of its dormancy and begin growing again. Long 14-hour days trigger bulb formation, and the more time garlic has to grow foliage before forming bulbs, the larger the heads will become.
Want your own homegrown garlic next year? There is still time to get bulbs planted as long as your soil is workable. Garlic only requires a cold period of at least 40F for 4-8 weeks in order to reliably divide into cloves and form a bulb, and it is one of the easiest crops to grow and save seed from. So get growing!
Can you DIG it or do you PICK it?
Knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown is not as common as it once was. As we have become reliant on purchasing food from grocery stores and restaurants, we have become less connected to the ways our food is grown. When our guests visit the GROW Gallery, many of them are seeing for the first time how an onion grows, that cucumbers grow on a vine or that unharvested lettuce heads will produce flowers and seeds.
From Clean Energy to Community: Sustainability and the Giant Picture
Asked what the word sustainability means to her, Maddie pauses for a minute to pull up a quote on her computer. “I want to get this definition right,” she says. “Sustainability means healthy people, communities, and environments, now and in the future.”
How to Extract Strawberry DNA
In this easy science experiment, Lauren shows us how to extract DNA from a strawberry using common household materials.
Honey Bees Get a New Home
While we are closed, the plants and animals at the Science Center still need to be cared for. That includes the honey bees in the outdoor GROW area. Follow along as Hannah and Maddie move an entire honey bee colony to their new home.
Membership does more.
As a nonprofit, the Saint Louis Science Center relies on memberships, donations and ticket sales to support free galleries like Ecology & Environment, our education programs, community outreach and daily operation.
If you’d like to support the Science Center’s mission, learn more about membership, make a one-time gift in support of the Science Center, or get tickets to see a show.
Many gallery features and activities are weather- and season-dependent.
Trace the steps of your food from the farm to the table – and everywhere in between. This award-winning indoor area features exhibits, educational programs and planned events that explore farming and its vital role in today’s complex local and global economies. Visit our seed display, view a stunning display of soil monoliths from every state in the United States, and check out the amazing glulam beams used to build the Pavilion.
MARSfarm Food Computer
MARSfarm works to inspire students’ interest in space travel and the future of farming through the use of Food Computer kits paired with Mars-centric STEM curriculum. Our kits and curriculum enable hands on learning about everything from plant physiology to computer science.
A food computer contains a plant growing area and a computer that controls operations like the amount of light and temperature. The computer is programmed to take measurements. Food computers like ours use hydroponics to grow the plants. Hydroponic means the plants grow in water instead of soil. To feed the plants, growers add nutrients into the water.
Bi-State AG Map
The adventure begins at home. Dig into the agricultural products and processes of Missouri and Illinois and learn where your food comes from.
Water plays a vital role in agriculture, as well as our lives. While the kids play in this interactive water area, check out the nearby rain gardens and permeable pavement. Learn how we use this very important resource in farming and in our everyday lives.
Botany Basics at the Giant Sunflower
Explore the inner workings of plants and discover how they harvest the Sun’s energy to grow and support all life on Earth. Check out the native plantings and learn how plants spread and grow.
Plants aren’t the only source of food you can find on farms. Take a tour through the Animal Corral and simulated milking, understand the digestive processes of livestock, and learn how farmers manage feed conversion. On select days, local farmers visit and bring animals to visit. Past animal visitors have included dairy cows, goats, sheep, rabbits, alpaca, ostrich and baby pigs.
Farm Tech Field
Get your hands on today’s farming tools, from our huge combine to modern innovations like drones, environmental sensors, and our very own GROW BOT on select days. See our crops and learn how modern equipment, science and technology all are used on the farms of today— and tomorrow.
Agricultural growth isn’t always open fields and gigantic tractors. Many urban areas are demonstrating ways to grow specialty food crops like lettuce, kale and tomatoes indoors using aquaponic, hydroponic, and aeroponic systems. Visit our aquaponics demonstration on select days to see one way food can be grown indoors using fish. See example of current technologies utilized in indoor growing facilities and check out our very own FarmBot, exemplifying principles of open source agriculture.
Visit the Fermentation Station (open seasonally) to purchase refreshments like beer, wine, kombucha, as well as more substantial offerings like burgers from the on-site burger bar, sausage, and cheese and fruit plates. While you’re visiting, check out the grape vines that encircle the space.
Meet the Farmers
Meet the farmers who grow our food and raise our animals through interactive exhibits and visits from farmers. Be sure to check our calendar and social media for guests and announcements.
Introduce your children to life on the farm with Tractor Run at GROW. Kids can take the wheel of a mini-tractor and ride around our fun, farm-inspired track.
Tractor run is currently closed until further notice
Hear the story behind the egg. Learn all about our chicken flock and even feed our chickens a “snack” during our Chicken Chats held daily at the chicken coop. Learn what you need to start raising your own birds, or even about how humans have shaped the genetics of birds through selective breeding.
It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Visit the homeGROWn area for ideas about how to start your own edible plot. See specialty food crops like beans, garlic, peppers, and squash up close and visit with our staff and volunteers for tips on growing. Visit our compost area and learn how to turn food scraps into fertilizer.
Grow Programs for Groups
The Science Center offers a wide variety of agriculture-themed educational programs and tours tailored to specific groups and audiences.
GROW is accessible to visitors with disabilities, as well as visitors with strollers, scooters, and walkers. Elevators and ramps serve all public areas.