Mines Tiny Greenhouse – A Commutative Greenhouse Project
Every year the seniors at the Colorado School of Mines participate in a Capstone Design Project. In the fall of 2020, Marla, Christine, Hannah, Juliana, Andrea, Micah, and Zoe took on the Mines Greenhouse Capstone Project. They were met with the challenge to establish a “campus greenhouse that will supply local organic produce to Mines students and Mines Market.”
The team rose to the challenge raising over $7,000 for the project and splitting the solution into two parts. The first part is raised outdoor garden beds that serve as a community garden space where students can rent plots and grow food. The second part is a 22’ Growing Dome better known by students as “Mines Tiny Greenhouse.”
Building a More Sustainable Food Culture
Initially, the team created a design for their own dome and took bids for a greenhouse kit, but after much deliberation and design research, they opted to purchase a 22’ Growing Dome Greenhouse Kit and build it themselves.
“Purchasing the greenhouse kit rather than designing our own was beneficial in that the greenhouse was designed for the harsher Colorado climates, wet snow and wind loads, was more economical, and was focused on sustainable materials.” – Design Team.
With the help of a supervisor from our team here at Growing Spaces, they began construction on April 8th, 2021, completing the Dome structure before the end of term.
Energy Efficient Hydroponics System
Purchasing a kit also gave them more time to focus on what matters the most, the inside. The Mines Tiny Greenhouse team designed an energy-efficient hydroponics system and an aeroponic tower to maximize produce production. The hydroponic system consists of PVC pipes mounted in six tiers on a wooden a-frame. Each tier can grow up to 35 plants!
“The use of hydroponics also enhances the use of the climate control system, which will measure temperature, light, humidity, and control the hydroponic water pumps, heaters, seedling growing areas, and lights via a Raspberry Pi. The climate control system serves to maximize efficiency.”
Mines Tiny Greenhouse Today
What started as a senior design project has evolved into Grown@Mines, a university honors, and scholar program. They work in conjunction with other organizations at the Colorado School of Mines to host campus events such as cooking classes with Fighting Hunger at Mines.
The greenhouse is estimated to donate at least 25% of their fresh produce to Fighting Hunger at Mines and hopes to sell the other 75% at the Golden Farmers Market and Mines Market.
“Our goal with this was for it to be a community project. It has been accepted by the Mines community. Everyone has been so involved. It is cool to be leaving all this behind when I leave.” – Julianna Valenzuela (project manager)
Next Steps for Grown@Mines and The Mines Tiny Greenhouse
The Mines Tiny Greenhouse and the students involved in Grown@Mines need your support to get things up and running. They are currently coordinating a fundraiser for the project. The primary funding would provide electricity for their hydroponics systems, enabling them to continue growing through winter.
The students at Colorado School of Mines have taken on two more capstone projects with Growing Spaces for the fall of 2021. One team is challenged to develop a control system for the Mines Tiny Greenhouseor the Go Farm Greenhouse to monitor and automate controls such as temperature, humidity, soil moisture. The other is tasked to develop a design for more modular construction of a geodesic greenhouse using extruded T-slot aluminum framing or an alternative material or design that is equally as strong and durable as our current design (Douglas fir).
Subscribe to our Happy Grower newsletter to stay up to date with the Mines Tiny Greenhouse and other greenhouse projects.
You can find all of our Featured Growing Dome’s highlighted in our monthly newsletter “The Happy Grower,” on our social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram), and in our blog. At the end of the year, we create an annual calendar that includes every Dome of the Month. We send them to all Dome of the Month participants, along with a gift of Growing Spaces gardening goodies! Apply here.
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What a fantastic capstone project for Mines students. Congrats!
Thank you! The staff and students are amazing!