Saginaw Valley State University's commitment to environmental sustainability has been recognized, as SVSU’s Boutell Memorial Greenhouse has been recertified for cropping system through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP).
The recertification means SVSU's greenhouse ranks within the top 5 percent of certifiable entities for cropping systems. The category focuses on field-based activities, such as water use, soil conservation and nutrient management. Greenhouses, crops, orchards and more are included in this category.
Ed Meisel, SVSU lecturer of chemistry and greenhouse manager, said the MAEAP reviews risks associated with pesticide and nutrient application, erosion control and record keeping. He developed a process to help SVSU's greenhouse control these risks.
"We utilize a special process that I came up with in 2010 called vermiponics — an integration of vermiculture, hydroponics and aquaponics — which helps us to be one of the most efficient, effective and successful greenhouse systems known today," he said.
Meisel's vermiponics system has made recertification easier for SVSU.
"(MAEAP) was thoroughly impressed with our methods and systems, and noted that they would love to invite other greenhouse and cropping systems to visit ours as an exemplary model," he said.
The 2,000 square-foot greenhouse resides in SVSU’s Dow Doan Science Building West. It was last certified in 2014, as certifications last five years. The greenhouse does not use traditional herbicides or pesticides.To become cropping system certified, applicants attend educational seminars, go through an on-site risk assessment and develop and implement an action plan to address any risks noted by the inspector.
"We utilize getting biodegradable wastes by taking the waste from Starbucks, Subway, Green Works and other dining facilities campus," he said. "We also take shredded paper from different departments as well."
Meisel said the recertification went smoothly largely because of the hard work of student employees in the greenhouse.
"They are directly involved with the greenhouse, which requires a large amount of learning new and different systems, as well as the skills, and gaining knowledge in the latest areas of agriculture and greenhouse systems," he said. "I appreciate having a great team to work with in order to be successful."
Meisel said the voluntary certification is difficult to attain, but it ensures the greenhouse meets state and federal regulation standards.
"The MAEAP agents are very systematic in analyzing and looking through records and data to make sure one is abiding by environmental laws," he said.
Meisel said the SVSU greenhouse continues to seek recertification because of the benefits associated with it.
"We receive recognition as a top steward in the community," he said.