Posts Tagged ‘Greenhouse’

Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/CSM.
Repotting plants at Eastie Farm.
The Christian Science Monitor says, “The geothermal greenhouse is warmed in the winter and cooled in the summer by heat exchange, using pipes that circulate a fluid underground. Crops will be grown during all seasons.”

Here’s a new take on an urban community farm — keeping it going in the winter without recourse to fossil fuels.

Ariana Bennett writes at the Christian Science Monitor, “Tucked near a highway underpass, a greenhouse glows faintly in the cold night. Inside, volunteers stand in the warmth, crowded around two pizzas topped with homegrown basil. Rows of potted greens, herbs, peppers, eggplants, and even strawberries line shelves along the walls.

“The greenhouse is a new project of Eastie Farm, a nonprofit educational urban farm founded in 2016 and housed in East Boston. Focused on feasible climate action, the nonprofit – and its new greenhouse – provides the surrounding community with greater control over its food supply. The building runs on geothermal energy and is the first of its kind in New England. …

“ ‘Everything that we do, we try to make sure that it has a relevance here and now, and it serves the purpose for the people who are living here today,’ says Kannan Thiruvengadam, the director of Eastie Farm. …

“The geothermal greenhouse operates as a heat exchange. Below the frost line, Earth’s temperature stays at a steady 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit year round. A fluid composed of water and antifreeze is pumped up from the ground, runs through a compressor, passes over a warm coil, and finally blows into the greenhouse as warm air. The fluid then heads back underground, forming a closed loop system.

“By drawing the temperature below the frost line up and into the greenhouse, the system warms in the winter and cools in the summer. Add in some warmth from sunshine, and winter temps in the greenhouse can be as high as 70 degrees.

“Inspiration for the greenhouse sparked during one of Eastie Farm’s nature classes taught to local students: Kids wanted an opportunity to get outside and farm in the colder months. ‘They even asked, “Come on, there must be something we can grow in the wintertime, ‘ ” Mr. Thiruvengadam remembers. …

“There was no one to guide Eastie Farm through the project – because it hadn’t been done before. Greenhouses are typically powered by propane and aren’t all that green, despite their name. They leak warm air in the winter and are often abandoned or used as storage in the hot summer months. Funding entities and contractors alike were unsure how to help. …

“Greenhouse manager Will Hardesty-Dyck aims to use the 1,500-square-foot enclosure to grow year-round, for about 2,000 pounds of produce yearly.

“Inside the greenhouse, string lights crisscross the ceiling underneath an insulation layer that is pulled tight to trap the daylight’s long-gone heat inside the building. The smell of soil fills the space with the feeling of spring.

“ ‘I just really love growing plants,’ Mr. Hardesty-Dyck says. ‘That makes me tick – and then being able to do that in this sort of organization where we’re really engaging with people and addressing needs.’

“The neighborhood Eastie Farm serves is as unique as its greenhouse. East Boston is a community that suffers a disproportionate burden of climate hazards. The peninsula is home to Boston Logan International Airport, houses stores of petroleum-derived products, and is at risk of climate-related flooding. It also experiences a high level of food insecurity.

“Mr. Hardesty-Dyck is already fielding requests to house budding saplings as well as to cultivate culturally relevant foods that may not be available – at least not fresh – at supermarkets.

South and Central American community members have asked for tropical and subtropical fruits, such as mamoncillo. There have also been requests for herbs such as cilantro and mint, a common ingredient in Moroccan tea.

“ ‘The reality is that we don’t have a lot of access to fresh fruits and vegetables. So the farm really is a great way to expose yourself to a variety that you don’t easily get in the stores that we have,’ says Bessie King, a CSA subscriber and East Boston resident.

“Eastie Farm challenges the conventional definition of an urban farm.  ‘Urban farms have more to harvest from their proximity to a lot of consumers and from their connections with rural farms than just by maximizing what [they grow] in every square inch,’ Mr. Thiruvengadam says. …

“One of the pillars of the nonprofit is education. Students can learn about the greenhouse effect and its meaning for the planet while standing in a greenhouse and experiencing it hands-on. The farm also manages four school gardens, which give students ‘ownership or buy-in to the school community,’ says Sam Pichette, a fifth grade teacher at Bradley Elementary whose students have participated in nature classes here. ‘It helped to strengthen ties between the students and to the community they live in.’ “

More at the Monitor, here. No firewall. Subscriptions encouraged.

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Photo: Anne Lakeman/Mediamatic ETEN
Testing the Serres Séparées safe-eating concept at Mediamatic restaurant in the Netherlands.

My husband keeps saying he can’t imagine that going to restaurants will ever be the same after coronavirus. In fact, he says, if nice restaurants continue doing takeout, maybe we should just stick with that.

Of course, restaurant owners are already thinking about these issues.

Byron Mühlberg reports from the Netherlands that the possibility of future guests requesting their own separate spaces has got some restaurateurs thinking creatively.

“With Dutch restaurants, bars and other catering services engulfed in uncertainty over how they might adjust to the 1.5-meter society,” he writes, “one Amsterdam restaurant is set to experiment with a brand new way of condoning off its guests: Using enclosed greenhouses.

“Mediamatic ETEN, part of a larger arts and entrepreneurship center focusing on sustainability, is a vegan restaurant. … From May 21, the restaurant will begin taking in guests, only this time they will be seated inside Serres Séparées (‘separated greenhouses’), enclosed glass structures, each equipped with a table for two or three diners.

” ‘This was one of the most feasible ideas from a large list of ideas we had when brainstorming,’ Mediamatic’s founding partner Willem Velthoven told NL Times. …

Initially, no more than three guests will be allowed to dine inside each greenhouse, even though there is the capacity for more. ‘[This is] is because we are now careful with our optimism,’ Velthoven explained. …

” ‘Bigger groups could [come] now, but then they should be families. For now, bigger groups are being discouraged because, from our experience, they are just louder and then you get the excited behavior causing spittle to fly and so on, and that’s the kind of behavior that would make the virus spread faster,’ Velthoven said. …

“Catering industry association KHN told NL Times, ‘We sent a protocol to the government two weeks ago, containing advice on how best to open the 1.5 [meter] distance. It is crucial that the government provide perspective quickly.’

“While KHN said it would not yet advise restaurants to reopen on June 1, renowned catering tycoon Laurens Meyer … questioned the idea of people becoming too careful with space.

” ‘We have to realize that there will always be some kind of virus. Whether it is worse than the flu, we have to see. If there is nothing left of our economy, we will no longer be able to afford health care and that will also cost human lives,’ explained Meyer.

“Velthoven, on the other hand, disagrees with Meyer’s approach, urging caution before advising restaurants to open their doors to the public without careful examination. ‘It’s about others and not just yourself in this case,’ he said. …

“Velthoven also understands the business argument, even though he has spent a career looking for creative solutions to problems instead of blunt responses. He ultimately wondered what the government’s plan is for the catering sector if those businesses are ordered to stay closed for a longer duration. If billions of euros are being diverted to KLM, he wonders what the government will be able to do to bail out his industry.

” ‘If I am not allowed to do anything the rest of this year, it’s finished,’ he lamented.” More at NL Times, here.

If you have heard of other good ideas for restaurants and bars in our cautious Covid-19 world, please share them in Comments. Pretty sure that there’s a large group of potential patrons who will be looking for the safest way to dine out — at least until a vaccine is widely available.

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Tim Faulkner at ecoRI has been covering Rhode Island’s newest food initiatives. Recently he wrote about the unusually advanced greenhouse of Boston Greens. in Kingstown.

“Lewis Valenti, CEO and founder of the greenhouse and the Boston Greens line of leafy green vegetables and herbs it produces, spent five years studying how to start a business that grows produce indoors and year-round. …

“The result is what Valenti describes as the most technologically advanced greenhouse in New England. The 8,400-square-foot glass barn relies on advanced computer programs to manipulate light, feeding and humidity.

“All plants are fed a fertilizer-rich water that recirculates in a system of troughs at the base of the plants, a process known as hydroponic growing. The water alone goes through several filters and processes that strip it of minerals and all non-water elements. A nutrient mix is then reintroduced before it is fed through the hydroponic system.

“The benefits are an ability to control the nutrients in the plants and increase their overall health benefits. There are no pests and therefore no need for pesticides or herbicides, according to Valenti. The process conserves water, using 1,200 gallons a day compared to 28,000 gallons for a comparable outdoor field, according to Valenti. The yield is higher, too. The greenhouse will grow 250,000 heads of lettuce throughout the year, producing the equivalent of a 4-acre farm. …

“So far, the $1.3 million project has been privately funded, and it’s already generating revenue. All future harvests of lettuces and herbs have been pre-sold to a handful of restaurants and eight grocery stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

“Valenti, who went to college in Rhode Island and keeps a home in East Greenwich, said Rhode Island is a foodie state with top restaurants, culinary schools and a burgeoning agricultural movement. But with limited space for farmland, the new greenhouse is the best way to keep the local food movement sustainable while creating jobs, he said.

“ ‘I can’t think of a better place to grow food than Rhode Island,’ Valenti said.”

More here.

Photo: Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News photos
The new greenhouse is expected to grow 250,000 heads of lettuce annually.

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I’m grateful to Scott, a former colleague, for putting this cool thing on Facebook. Looking at these healthy, growing plants is especially warming today, now that the temperature has gone back to 15 F.

Tim Blank at Future Growing LLC (which produces vertical aeroponic food farms) writes, “When you hear about a farm that supplies all-natural, sustainable produce, using 90% less water and 90% less land, one that utilizes the most advanced vertical aeroponic technology on earth, you surely would not guess it would be an Amish farm.

“Yet in Topeka, Indiana, you cannot get produce that is more local, fresh, healthy, and sustainable — even in the middle of an Indiana blizzard — like you can get at Sunrise Hydroponics, an Amish farm.

“Sunrise Hydroponics is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Marlin and Loretta Miller on their rural farm in Topeka. I have had the privilege of working with the Amish community for more than half a decade, and have come to learn that, while their lives seem simple to many outsiders, their homes, farms, and businesses are highly innovative. The Amish utilize cutting-edge and creative forms of technology to improve their lives, while still falling within the guidelines of their belief system.” Read more here.

Greenhouse at Sunrise Hydroponics

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