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Building a Greenhouse on a College CampusH

PostPosted: Oct 25, 2011 3:19 pm
by mshem
So I am being given a $75,000 grant to build a greenhouse on my campus, Brandeis University, and I am wondering how I can build the most durable and sustainable greenhouse that can be used for many years all year round and is big enough to have sections for biological research, sections for organic food growth, and a section reserved for a 'nature sanctuary' for students and faculty to come relieve stress in mother nature's healing presence. It also needs to implement alternative energy systems like solar panels and waste reduction such as compost bins. Land area is not the issue, but manpower for maintenance is a factor. Also, I'm considering growing exotic and cash crops to sell in order to make it more affordable.What do you guys think? Any tips/suggestions?
Lets make this happen.

Re: Building a Greenhouse on a College CampusH

PostPosted: Oct 26, 2011 11:49 am
by Chris_W
Wow, sounds like a great project!

I would get competing bids from different companies for greenhouse structures. Start by googling agricultural suppliers in Massachusetts. At $75,000 you should be able to do a lot with that budget, but I'm not sure that you could do all of the proposed uses right away if you don't have the manpower, but that's great to have the vision :)

Some of my suppliers are BFG Supply (based in OH), Vandenberg Bulb Co (based in MI), and I've purchased cold frames from Farmtek (you can find them online at and through AM Leonard (in OH), but these are fairly regional to me, and I'm sure there are similar companies near you.

So get competing bids for greenhouse structures, I'm sure you will be overwhelmed with choices. If you are going to grow cash crops, and land isn't an issue, I'd really consider an organic vegetable gardening project on campus that grows more things outdoors than inside, but then you could do hydroponic type growing operations year round too, and wouldn't there be plenty of students to help with manpower? Does your college already have an agriculture program? There has to be others that can help you get started if there is.

Also contact some local growers to see if they have some suggestions. Perhaps they can help with donations or just some additional insight into nearby suppliers. Or even do what I did, and watch for nurseries that are closing down. I got a $4,000 greenhouse structure for $500 this fall from a nursery that closed down near us.

Wishing you the best with your new project!


Re: Building a Greenhouse on a College CampusH

PostPosted: Oct 26, 2011 12:36 pm
by mshem
Thanks Chris for your excellent insights! I will do all these things and report back soon.