WDC breaks ground on greenhouse
“Richard Muckala will teach a basic agriculture and a plant and horticulture class, as well as have his FFA students working in the greenhouse,” Church explained. “In addition, our high school biology classes and our sixth-grade science class will utilize the greenhouse. Students will be able to apply concepts from the classroom into a live learning lab.”
The 24-by-32-foot structure will use a passive solar system heating method developed to handle Minnesota winters. This system will enable WDC to plant in late August, begin harvesting as early as November and continue to harvest food until April. The structure will have a clear triple-layered polycarbonate roof and walls attached to metal extrusions. Automated irrigation will also be installed.
The effort to bring a greenhouse to WDC has truly been a cooperative effort with local, county and statewide organizations as well as the school involved in the funding of this exciting project.
The University of Minnesota Central Region Sustainable Partnership (CRSP) provided a $2,000 grant to the Wadena-based nonprofit group, Stimulating Economic Progress (STEP), to research and plan a food production facility on a school campus. The University of Minnesota CRSP provided another $10,000 grant to build the structure. This was matched with a $10,000 grant from the Wadena Elks Lodge. A $500 gift was given by the Sustainable Farmers Association of Minnesota central chapter and through the efforts of Wadena County Public Health, Health4Life granted another $5,000 which is being used to equip the greenhouse and prepare the raised beds for planting.
Volunteers from Wadena Elks Lodge will erect the structure while volunteers from Sustainable Farmers Association of Minnesota will help prepare the growing environment. STEP and WDC will dig the foundation and put in the passive solar distribution system.
According to David Everts of STEP, the horticulture center will eventually furnish fresh produce for the school cafeteria too.
“The Horticulture Center is one more way that WDC Schools is setting new standards of enhanced education opportunity,” Everts said, adding, “A whole new generation of youths will learn how to grow, harvest, cook and enjoy eating healthy local food,” said Everts.