Oct. 6, 2014

Ashley Thompson
[email protected]

There’s a good chance that the vegetables you eat at Clyde’s or in Café 65 have come directly from the UCCS greenhouse.

“Students have the unique opportunity of going right into a campus restaurant and trying that vegetable,” Kelly Jennings, greenhouse manager, said.

The produce from the greenhouse is not UCCS’ primary food source, but supplements produce brought in from other companies. “Integrating the garden and the new food service is a bit of a challenge,” Jennings said. “Raising awareness about the greenhouse and the fact that [UCCS students] have this wonderful food is a little slow.”

Constructed in fall 2012, the greenhouse is located by Lot 103 near University Hall.

According to Jennings, there are two main growing seasons: late May to the fi rst frost and late fall to spring. Different crops are grown according to the season.

Plants are not only grown within the greenhouse but also in the outside surrounding gardens. Vegetables such as squash, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, lettuce and kale are grown as well as herbs such as oregano, thyme, basil, parsley and chives.

The greenhouse is triplewalled and insulated to preserve heat and captures solar energy, but Jennings explained the key issue is space. “UCCS’ greenhouse is relatively small, so we have to be careful of our input to produce ratio,” Jennings said.

The greenhouse can also serve as an important educational tool.

“It’s an educational link, where their food comes from and what it takes to get it onto their plate,” Jennings explained. “The food is more nutritious because it’s fresher, it tastes better because it’s fresher.”

Nationwide, food is being transported from long distances. Locally grown food is one way to become independent of that trend and Jennings wants students to realize the value of eating locally grown vegetables.

“Students need to be asking if it is an ethically good decision to eat a product from far away, or one that is out of season,” said Jennings. “There’s a food revolution across the country, people are gaining an awareness of food systems.”

Nanna Meyer, sports nutrition assistant professor, created a healthy campus initiative in University Hall for students to learn more about the greenhouse and seasonal food.

Every Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. a different greenhouse vegetable is showcased in a veggie bowl and is available for purchase.

Students interested in volunteering at the greenhouse can contact [email protected].