The Village Center now features a state-of-the-art greenhouse, right off the second-floor dining center. This aeronponic, vertical farming system grows a variety of lettuces in a soilless medium, using nutrient-rich water in grow towers.
The greenhouse was built with sustainability as a key feature. Incorporated into the structure is cutting-edge technology, which automates mechanizes some of the most important components that support plant health, such as sunlight, shade, humidity and temperature levels. The sensors monitoring those conditions not only create optimal growing conditions, they also prevent fans, lights and other equipment from running unnecessarily when natural conditions are sufficient.
Growing on-site also has a significant impact on “food miles.” Our greenhouse crops eliminate the need for the harvest, cleaning, packaging and transportation from another farm. The produce is grown, harvested, cleaned and served all within the Village Center, creating virtually zero food miles.
The Village Center Greenhouse currently supplies the connected dining center salad bar with the freshest greens on campus, but plans are already in the works to expand crop types and sizes over time.
2,700 square feet
137 hydroponic towers, able to grow 44 plants each
Seeding, growing, harvesting and processing all occur on premises
Greens grown include: kale, arugula and an assortment of lettuces
Crops take approximately four to eight weeks from seed to table
Seeds are started in hydroponic media, and at two weeks transferred to aeroponic towers to continue growing in a soilless medium using a nutrient-rich solution.
Cutting-edge technology helps keep growing conditions optimal and manages energy consumption.
Plant health is supported by an integrated pest management program that is completely bee friendly!
We harvest, clean and serve these delicious, fresh greens directly to you at the salad bar. A true farm to table experience.
Alex Macmillan joined Campus Dining Services in 2017, first helping in the design and development of the greenhouse and now overseeing all operations and production.
Alex has a degree in horticulture from the University of New Hampshire and a solid background in organic farming, vertical farming and greenhouse growing. He is passionate about the local food movement and is inspired by the department’s first foray into farming. He said of this venture, “Locally grown food just tastes better. I’m excited to grow food right here on campus showing the community where their food comes from.”