Barbara Lynch Gruppo Gets Fresh With SproutsIO Produce Technology

Forget farm-to-table: the MIT Media Lab-developed devices are optimizing the kitchen garden.


Chef de Cuisine Ben Weisberger harvests produce from SproutsIO at No. 9 Park. / Photo courtesy of SproutsIO

Today’s unseasonable warmth is just a tease, but the fact that spring is a dismally distant doesn’t necessarily mean Boston area restaurants are going without fresh greens. In particular, the Barbara Lynch Gruppo is featuring some of the most local produce possible, thanks to a new partnership with a company called SproutsIO.

SproutsIO produces soil-free growing systems, which use smartphone-controlled technology developed at the MIT Media Lab. Cofounder Jennifer Broutin Farah has since moved manufacturing to Detroit, but the Boston-bred company sought a relationship with the Barbara Lynch Gruppo, in part, to support female entrepreneurship, according to a press release. Gruppo executive chef Michele Carter showed an early interest in using SproutsIO at No. 9 Park, Menton, Drink, and Sportello.

Dubbed the Tastemaker Pilot Program, SproutsIO’s hydroculture systems were installed at No. 9 Park and Menton in November and December. So far, various, specialized produce has found its way onto plates like No. 9 Park’s prune stuffed gnocchi, Menton’s tortellini en brodo, and Sportello’s garganelli with polpetti. SproutsIO devices are equipped with machine learning technology that makes for foolproof gardening: Using real-time data, it knows when to harvest; lighting, nutrient delivery, and misting all adjust automatically, too, for the most optimal, energy-efficient yield.

So far, No. 9 Park is growing chervil with its in-house SproutsIO; the Congress Street kitchen is producing cress, lovage, broccoli greens, red mustard, violas, rainbow chard, chervil, and micro arugula. The hyper-hyperlocal produce is making its way into spring menu planning, too.

No. 9 Park, 9 Park St., Boston; 617-742-9991 or

Menton, 354 Congress St., Boston; 617-737-0099 or; and other locations on Congress Street.