Greenhouse Project Update
After the craziness of the last month we are back on track with the Caledonia Greenhouse project. Talking to some professionals in the field of year round growing like Farmer Cam in Terrace has given us a great idea of the features we will need to include. A rough preview of the final project is shown below!
The first crucial addition is power, which is supplied by the solar panels on top of the greenhouse to keep them out of the way of vandals and shading. The power from these panels will be stored in a battery bank to allow for the power to be used when the sun isn't shining.
The image below provides a labeled representation of the parts that will be talked about next.
The next piece is grow lights. Plants need at least 10 hours of light a day to be able to grow, and because the sun is up for such a short period during the winter, we will need to provide that light artificially after the sun goes down.
The final part that uses power is the heating cables. These cables run underneath the soil and are attached to a thermometer in order to keep the roots of the plants from freezing.
Another important addition will be thermal mass to hold and then dissipate the heat from the sun during the day. The easiest way to do this is black barrels of water. Water has a high thermal capacity which means it hold heat well and black absorbs thermal energy better than any other colour. These barrels will absorb heat during the day and then during the night when it gets cold they will slowly release the collected heat into the space. With a well insulated building it will allow relatively consistent temperatures to be maintained.
Other things that we will be considering is using covers for the plants overnight which will insulate the plants directly until the sun comes out and starts warming up the greenhouse again.
This project will enable the growing season to be extended for the students at Cal and also allow them to start planting earlier. This is extremely important from an educational standpoint as the school year does not run during the summer which is peak growing season, which means there needs to be growth during the rest of the year when the students are present. It will take experimentation to find out what kind of plants are best suited to survive the cooler temperatures and then optimize the growing plan, but it will be a good challenge and provide an excellent learning opportunity. We are excited to provide an avenue to teach students about sustainable opportunities.