Although there are still a couple feet of snow on the Marlboro Farm, things are warming up in the greenhouse this spring. That’s because there is a class this semester called Finishing the Greenhouse: Collaborative Research & Action that is taking a closer look at how to make this community space a more effective resource for year-round, farm-related activities. Taught by writing professor Kyhl Lyndgaard and chemistry professor Todd Smith, in collaboration with admissions counselor Kenton Card, carpenter Don Capponcelli, and Outdoor Program director Randy Knaggs, this class has the task of making the greenhouse more functional.
The purpose of the Finishing the Greenhouse course is to bring together a team of faculty, staff, and students to study the performance of the greenhouse and how it can best be integrated into the farm. Working together as well as on independent projects, the class is asking questions like: How will the greenhouse be most effectively used? How much light does the greenhouse receive? How much heat does it retain? What kinds of plants are a good match between the performance of the building and the community’s needs?
Students started the semester by building electronic light and temperature loggers, to measure these variables in different parts of the greenhouse over the season. Then they measured the overall surface dimensions and volume of the space, and learned how to conduct a “blower door test” (pictured above) to measure the air-tightness of the envelope. All of these measurements will help instruct the design of a ventilation system, solar-powered lights, and other systems that will help make the space more effective. Throughout the semester the course is rooted in collaborative and site-specific learning, known as place-based pedagogy. The greenhouse presents a unique opportunity to generate empirical data, find design solutions, and construct projects that will make a difference.