Mines Greenhouse Project
The Mines Greenhouse team was tasked with the goal to establish a green space for use by all members of the Mines community, that does not yet exist on campus. The team took on this task and created the following mission: (1) Provide local organic produce to the Mines community, (2) Enable students to participate in food production through work-study and volunteer opportunities that contribute to the operation of the greenhouse facilities, (3) We aim to demonstrate Mine’s commitment to sustainability and provide tranquil spaces to support student mental health and wellness, (4) The facilities are designed to allow for hands-on learning curriculum development, and educational tours for locals and visitors of our garden to encourage more sustainable practices in the Mines Community.
In order to fulfill our mission, the team has created both the Mines Tiny Greenhouse and outdoor garden beds. Located in Mines Park, both of these facilities aim to serve community members in different ways. The Mines Tiny Greenhouse is a geodesic dome greenhouse that will be managed by volunteers and paid staff to grow produce that will be sold or donated to the Mines and Golden communities, via hydroponic systems designed by the team for maximum growing production. The outdoor garden beds will be a community garden for students and community members to rent a plot out by term and grow for personal consumption, with the option to donate their produce to prevent waste.
Live Zoom Chat
Use the link below to join us live from 8:00 – 10:30 a.m. on April 28th.
Please use passcode: 643311
Or iPhone one-tap: 16699006833,93574107748# or 12532158782,93574107748#
Dial: +1 669 900 6833 (US Toll) or +1 253 215 8782 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 935 7410 7748
- Hannah Kelly
- Zoe Logan
- Julianna Valenzuela
- Christine Commercon
- Marla Loya-Hernandez
- Andrea Gonzalez
- Micah Belmont
- Lauren Poole, Sustainability@Mines
Project Advisor: Prof. David Grimm
Technical Advisor: Robert Lee, Chris Cocallas, David Feron, Lem Tingley and GrowingSpaces
Donations Made by: Home Depot, Gardeners Supply Company, Bees Wrap, BioBag Americas Inc., Global Seed Network
The team was faced with the challenge to implement a campus greenhouse that will supply organic local produce to Mines students and Mines Market. Our mission is to provide local organic produce to the Mines community through the Mines Tiny Greenhouse and outdoor garden beds located in Mines Park. Through this, we also want to enable students to participate in food production through work-study and volunteer opportunities that contribute to the operation of the greenhouse facilities.
The Mines Tiny Greenhouse is a 22-ft geodesic dome housing hydroponic tiers to maximize growing space, and features smart technology to maintain efficiency. The greenhouse is estimated to donate at least 25% of fresh herbs and vegetables produced to Fighting Hunger at Mines, with the other 75% being sold at the Golden Farmers Market and to Mines Market to maintain the greenhouse. The Mines Tiny Greenhouse began construction on April 8th, 2021, and is anticipated to be completed by the end of term.
The outdoor garden beds will allow students and community members to rent out their own plot and grow their own food. The beds will be built over Summer 2021 to be ready for community member use by the Fall 2021 semester. We aim to demonstrate Mine’s commitment to sustainability and provide tranquil spaces to support student mental health and wellness. The facilities are designed to allow for hands-on learning curriculum development, and educational tours for locals and visitors of our garden to encourage more sustainable practices in the Mines Community.
The Mines Tiny Greenhouse was originally to be a geodesic dome designed by the team in the fall, and built in the spring term. The team drafted a design for a dome and took two other bids for greenhouse kits to be purchased to decide what would be the most economical, sustainable, and best fit the client and stakeholders needs. After many design iterations and research, it was decided to be more economical and worthwhile to purchase a geodesic dome kit from GrowingSpaces, a local Colorado company that focuses on sustainability and passive technology. Purchasing the greenhouse kit rather than designing our own was beneficial in that the greenhouse was designed for the harsher Colorado climates, met snow and wind loads, was more economical, and was focused on sustainable materials. Working with GrowingSpaces, the team was able to take their design for a geodesic dome and focus our efforts on designing the ‘furniture’ of the greenhouse: the hydroponic tiers, climate control system, etc..
The hydroponic tiers were an important part of the Mines Tiny Greenhouse that underwent several design iterations. The shape and size of the tiers was discussed and determined to be the most efficient with the space as an A-frame with six tiers. The connection of the PVC pipes that supply water to the plants also underwent several designs to ensure that there would be no leakage, and a suitable solution was found. The way in which the tiers were constructed also took some trouble shooting until the most efficient way was found and used for the rest of the tiers.
The team’s design solution has multiple components to ensure that it meets all of the clients and stakeholders needs. The Mines Tiny Greenhouse is aimed towards delivering produce to the Mines community via hydroponics while being sustainable and as efficient as possible. To maximize production, the greenhouse features only hydroponic tiers designed by the team, as well as an aeroponic tower. The hydroponic tiers are stacked to have six rows of plants, allowing each of the five tiers to grow 35 plants each. The use of hydroponics also enhances the use of the climate control system, which will measure temperature, light, humidity, and control the hydroponic water pumps, heaters, seedling growing areas, and lights via a Raspberry Pi. The climate control system serves to maximize efficiency, and in the fall will be improved upon to collect data for the community as a smart lab. The outdoor garden beds were created after getting more stakeholder input via surveys across the Mines campus to meet the needs of community members who want their own space to grow and practice mindfulness. Both the Mines Tiny Greenhouse and the outdoor garden beds work with the nearby senior design composting team to create a symbiotic relationship.
The Mines Tiny Greenhouse will begin official operations in Fall of 2021, being managed by an organization on campus that will support paid workers and volunteers to cultivate and maintain the greenhouse. The MTG is a part of a grounds that also houses the Mines Park composting project which was also installed this semester. These grounds will also hold outdoor garden beds built by the team over summer, which hold plots available to students and community members to rent out per term for personal growth and consumption. The organization created in the fall will manage the MTG, compost, and outdoor garden beds. A senior design team will also be continued into the fall to focus on making the MTG as autonomous and smart as possible.
The cost of maintaining the MTG, including staff and maintenance costs, has been taken into consideration as well. Around 75% of the produce created from the MTG will be sold within the community, such as to Mines Market or at the Golden Farmer’s Market, and should cover maintenance costs. The team hopes that Mines will be able to adapt the organization into a department so that funds can be pulled to pay for staff to ensure the MTG can run as well as possible.
Meet the Team
I am a Colorado native who grew up in Keystone and then Denver, but my family is originally from Mexico and Spain. I love to ski and go on hikes with my Dalmatian, Milo, and I love trying out new restaurants. I am studying Mechanical Engineering and going into the Navy’s nuclear program after graduation.
My name is Micah, I am an Electrical Engineering student, planning on graduating in the Fall of 2021. I plan to work in the Power Systems industry, focusing on energy generation. Jumping into this project as a first-year design student was a great decision; our teams hard work directly impacts the Mines and Golden communities. I am excited to continue the project in the Fall semester and further expand the greenhouse operations!
Zoe Logan is a senior graduating this May with a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering. She has accepted a full time position at Ulteig as a studies engineer working on renewable energy. In her free time, Zoe likes to go on hikes with her dog Hank and paint. Zoe was most excited about joining the Mines Greenhouse Team as she wants to focus her career on sustainability, and likes to think she has a green thumb.