This semester, students in the Season Extension for Sustainable Production class have put the finishing touches on the campus’s newest greenhouse: a 12’ x 25’ structure on the outskirts of Carver Hall. Built to provide CAES students with a variety of hands-on learning opportunities, the new greenhouse was built by nine students as part of the course’s laboratory section and it will be used in various agricultural disciplines.
The greenhouse was purchased through a 2014 capacity building grant through the Urban and Community Horticulture (UCH) concentration within the Agricultural and Environmental Systems major. The $150,000 grant is specifically intended to provide students with opportunities to learn by doing, and it funds the outdoor infrastructure – much of which has to be built – to provide those opportunities.
Since building began in September, two student teams have handled every aspect of greenhouse construction beginning with ground preparation, says Trequan McGee, a senior UCH major. McGee, as have the other students, has served as a designated supervisor, tasked to coordinate the work of the day.
The first use of the new greenhouse is for students to grow seedlings for transplant into nearby raised beds outside the Reid Greenhouse. The raised beds are integrated into the CAES’s Urban Food Platform, which will eventually include fruit trees, a gazebo, hydroponic towers and other planks of the urban food program.
The new greenhouse is distinguished from the larger Reid Greenhouse not just in size but in its intent: its entire space is for the students to learn in,
work in and get their hands dirty. The Reid Greenhouse, meanwhile, supports research and teaching primarily; outreach in a more limited way.
“With this greenhouse, and the whole Urban Food Platform, the ultimate goal is the experience, not the research,” says Odile Huchette, a lecturer in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design and director of Reid Greenhouse.