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Life > Experiences

Inside the Village Center Greenhouse

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Recently I toured the greenhouse in the Williams Village Dining Hall. I had no idea what to expect, but wanted to see inside of this mysterious purple building. We learned about the growing process and how the Village Center Greenhouse produces around 75 pounds of arugula per week. No wonder every dining hall at CU offers a never-ending supply of arugula salads! 

When the tour arrived at the greenhouse, we were told to put on hairnets and white lab coats. We then walked through a locked door and we were greeted by towers of plants. Established in 2018, this greenhouse is home to a wide variety of vegetables: including kale, arugula, scallions, sunflowers, broccoli, and even edible flowers.

Although my agricultural vocabulary is a bit rusty, what I understood from the tour is that greenhouse workers plant seeds, where they sit under heat lamps for up to two weeks, as seen below.

Once there are visible sprouts, the plants are then transferred into the “towers”, with one seed per hole. These towers provide the plants with constant water and are not only environmentally friendly, but also limit the space used to grow the quantity of plants needed by the dining halls. With over 100 towers and 44 spots per tower, almost 500 seeds can be grown at the same time. After two weeks of growing in the towers, the plants are ready to be picked, washed, and eaten. Talk about limiting food miles! 

If you live near Williams Village, you might wonder why the greenhouse emits a purple glow. This is because on some days, especially in the evening and during the winter, the plants need extra light and the greenhouse workers turn on the purple light. The clear scientific process the greenhouse workers follow is why the plants grow so fast, become so large, and can be eaten by masses of people. 

The Village Center Greenhouse is a pesticide-free growing space, uses natural fertilizers, saves water, and produces enough fresh vegetables for all of Williams Village. Funded from tuition and housing fees, this is a wonderful initiative by CU to provide fresh, clean, and sustainable food to students. Sometimes when there is a greater crop yield, trucks take extra vegetables to other dining halls found on main campus. For example, herbs grown in the summer are sent to all dining halls and can be found in many dishes like pesto and salad. Not only that, but the greenhouse workers have opportunities over the summer, when most students are living-off campus, to experiment with growing other fruits and vegetables like strawberries and peppers. 

If you are interested in learning more about sustainable agriculture or the Village Center Greenhouse, please look at the links provided below. 

Village Center Greenhouse

CU Farm and Garden Club

Hydroponic Farming

Lanaya Oliver

CU Boulder '24

Lanaya Oliver is the Editor-in-Chief and a contributing writer at the Her Campus Chapter at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As Editor-in-Chief, she oversees a team of editors, is the lead publisher and editor, and works as a campus corespondent. Outside of Her Campus, Lanaya is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is double majoring in both Psychology and Spanish with a minor in Sports Media. Her writing career started in high school when she was elected the position of school wide poet laureate after winning a poetry contest in her sophomore year. Now Lanaya’s writing has evolved from creative pieces to profiles and articles for her Her Campus articles. In her personal life, Lanaya is an ACE certified personal trainer and teaches both cycle and barre classes. Fitness is her passion and more often than not she can be found lifting weights, riding a bike, or running. She also enjoys being outdoors, binge watching movies, spending time with friends, thrift shopping, and munching on any white cheddar flavored snack she can find. Lanaya hopes to find a balance between her love for writing and her dreams of working in the fitness industry in her future career.