Few issues universally affect our planet’s population more than food. The VMS Greenhouse was built to provide a year-round classroom where students can get their hands dirty, engage all of their senses, and grow food that they can eat. Simultaneously, it is also a place to learn about nutrition, science, ethics, and the geopolitics behind food production. Students work and learn in our Greenhouse under the guidance of a full-time greenhouse coordinator, Gabe Starr, who is also our AP Environmental Science teacher.
The Greenhouse was built from the ground up to be a state-of-the-art, year-round, indoor growing space and classroom. It houses six raised beds, an aeroponics tower garden, and an aquaponics system that uses living fish, their waste, and recirculating water to create a self-fertilizing growing platform. The 1200 sq. ft. structure is attached to the main school building and includes a ground-air heat transfer system that uses the temperature stability of the earth as a thermal battery to assist with both heating and cooling. This component was inspired, in part, by a student’s Senior Project that looked at ways to build sustainable, year-round, greenhouses in the Rocky Mountains.
In addition to being a home for greenhouse-specific classes, the space is also used by several science classes across the divisions when they are learning about topics such as photosynthesis, biodiversity, and plant science. The Greenhouse has also been used by the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens to grow seedlings of endangered Penstemon.