The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

October 21, 2013

THE Greenhouse Project ready for construction

FAIRFIELD — After a process that has been much longer than anticipated, there is finally a greenhouse being constructed in Fairfield.

THE Greenhouse Project, a nonprofit project aimed at providing the Fairfield community with fresh produce, broke ground Monday at its location on West Stone Street. According to local food coordinator Jan Swinton, she had hoped the project would get moving in June, but a funding issue has postponed the start.

Now that the proper funds are in order, work is set to begin on the construction of the greenhouse and the heating units, which are what make the project so unique.

The greenhouse will use waste heat from Shaus-Vorhies Manufacturing, which will be exchanged via underground tanks and piping that will be put in place after the greenhouse is constructed.

The heating system will use underground air movement and water tanks that are placed 15 feet below the surface, and the air will come up through chimney-like structures in the greenhouse. Then an automated system fancied with thermostats will measure the heat and humidity levels of the greenhouse, and if their levels get too high or low, Swinton will get an alert on her smartphone.

The data from the thermostats will be gathered and documented every 10 minutes and will be put on the greenhouse’s website so anyone can see how it is working. The research data will hopefully show how you can grow produce more efficiently with certain heat levels.

“The engineering data can really change the way you grow your food,” Swinton said. “It shows you what to do.”

As a partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, THE Greenhouse Project will also provide fresh produce to the Fairfield Community School District, which is in a partnership with four other schools that could also benefit from the food at the greenhouse.

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