Last Fall, Ed Meisel, lecturer of chemistry, traveled to Lansing to receive an award on behalf of the University, the “Most Innovative Greenhouse in Michigan.” The award is sponsored by the Michigan Agri-Science Association of Educators and the Horticultural Teachers Association. Here he talks a little more about the award and the SVSU greenhouse:
SV: What is the official name of the award?
Meisel: The Distinguished Service Award. It is recognition as a leader in innovative technologies in greenhouse management and advancing agriscience education in Michigan.
SV: What is growing in the greenhouse?
Meisel: The SVSU Greenhouses use aquaculture, hydroponics, and renewable energy to rapidly produce fruits and vegetables with minimal horizontal space, fertilizer, water, and energy.
The Green Cardinal Initiative, together with Saginaw Valley State University, and SVSU’s WIRED grant from the Department of Labor, and the SVSU Foundation turn recycling waste from our Dining Services into organic fertilizer. We take in approximately 120 lbs of food and paper waste per day (5X120) = 600lbs per week which totals 9,000 lbs (4.5 tons) per semester! The vermiculture system uses red wiggler worms to recycle food garbage and paper waste into rich, organic fertilizer. We utilize the nutrients from the byproduct, and use our hydroponics system that take up less space but produce more yield per unit area allowing us to produce herbs, fruits, and vegetables high in nutional value that gets returned onto campus for fresh produce.
SV: How did SVSU win the award for the “Most Innovative Greenhouse in Michigan”?
Meisel: The SVSU Greenhouse is a laboratory. Yes, we grow plants. But what makes it unique and innovative is how efficiently and effectively we grow everything from vegetables, fruits and flowers to houseplants. The SVSU Greenhouses are also creating sustainable vermiponics systems (growing plants in mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil) for inner city urban areas, developing renewable options for fossil fuels, vermiculture systems (using earthworms to recycle food garbage and paper waste into rich, organic fertilizer), and raising environmental awareness on campus and throughout Mid-Michigan.
Several organizations, businesses, clubs, and K-12 schools with agriscience programs have toured our greenhouses. They are “wowed” with what is happening in the SVSU Greenhouses. These teachers are using or planning to use one or several of the systems that have been invented, designed, or applied in SVSU Greenhouses. Over 1,000 students are utilizing our systems at their high school/career center schools. Several schools have won awards and received grant funding to pursue these projects as well:
SV: What does the award mean for SVSU?
Meisel: Being named the “Most Innovative Greenhouse in Michigan” gives us even more opportunities to explore the fields of environment, agriculture, chemistry, and technology. It shows the high level of education and experience our students are receiving from working in the greenhouse. It also shows the K-12 schools we partner with the valuable lessons that can be used in their own communities. We are developing new ideas and applications to continue being one of the most innovative greenhouses in the state.