Ag students feed community with help of greenhouse

Ag students feed community with help of greenhouse

NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Life can be found in the High Tunnel Greenhouse on the campus of South Central College.

Students like Justin Hendricksen plant, tend and harvest a variety of produce as part of their program here at SCC.

From peppers to tomatoes hanging by trellises from the greenhouse ceiling to kale to the obscure.

“Yeah, it’s really unique. I’ve never seen a blue, it’s either a blue or a purple cabbage they call it,” Hendricksen said.

Students even had a hand in building the greenhouse, which can move along rails to cover different produce and extend the growing cycle.

“We push it down, lock it into place, and it stays in place against the wind,” Hendricksen explained.

After students grow it, the produce feeds the community in more ways than one.

SCC’s agriculture students sell it as part of the North Mankato Farmer’s Market, which sets up shop right next to the greenhouse every Monday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

What isn’t sold is taken to SCC’s culinary arts program and now to the newly-created campus food pantry, as well.

“Some surveys were conducted two years ago, and some students identified that there’s some concerns about ‘am I going to have nourishment for tomorrow?’ or they’re hungry while they’re on campus, so that kind of spiked our awareness,” explained Brad Schloesser, dean of agriculture at South Central College.

A variety of produce will be available to students when they return to campus in the fall.

Schloesser says the greenhouse’s value to students is two-fold.

“Making it available here in our food pantry is just a real win for the students producing it and for the students able to say ‘hey, I could use some fresh greens.”

One thing is clear: life benefits from this High Tunnel Greenhouse.

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