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DMC’s Controlled-Environment Agriculture Initiative

Schematic of controlled-environment agriculture greenhouse at the Drew Mathieson Center for Horticultural and Agricultural Technology.

The DMC Greenhouse plans to add commercial Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), where food crop production is dependent on creating and maintaining optimum growing conditions in an enclosed structure, to the unique operating model focused on workforce development and will create a new and exciting opportunity to develop educational and career building platforms. With CEA, the environment and plants are monitored by technology and agricultural technicians.

The DMC Greenhouse’s commercial food production will be focused on hydroponic production techniques and will include a combination of vining crops, herbs, specialty/ mixed greens, lettuce, and microgreens. Growing in a pristine greenhouse environment ensures a product free of disease and contamination. Producing a premium product should not come at the expense of nature’s limited resources. Incorporating principals of conservation and preservation results in a positive impact on the environment while providing a premium product to our customers.

To grow in the winter months, DMC Greenhouse will utilize LED grow lights to help supplement lighting conditions. Diffused glass is used on greenhouse rooftops for increased quality and production without increase in energy. The addition of these state-of-the-art energy efficient artificial lights, along with natural light will create perfect growing conditions year-round. Implementing environmentally conscious efforts throughout our production facility include the practice of Integrated Pest Management, which reduces pesticide usage and includes the introduction of eco-friendly predator insect to control any harmful pests. In addition, the production strategy of introducing bumble bees allows for natural pollination in the greenhouse.

Supply chain-wide electronic traceability will be implemented with the development of a Produce Traceability Initiative plan. Consumers and distributors desire to know where their food is coming from and this effort will focus on ensuring a superior quality traceable product. A perfectly controlled, closed environment will allow fruit and vegetable harvest to occur at the peak of ripeness with delivery to our customers within 24 hours.

Good Agricultural Practices creates strict sanitary guidelines, with innovative growing methods and combining them with exacting, state-of-the-art technologies will allow the DMC Greenhouse to grow premium quality crops.

The learning environment created at the DMC Greenhouse through the CEA initiative will provide students with expanded opportunities for new and exciting applied learning experiences and a wide range of hands-on training associated with food production. Educational goals will be focused on mastering and managing the science and technology behind the updated DMC Greenhouse and CEA initiative.

As an incubator for innovative technology and techniques the DMC updates will address areas of conserving resources, operating more efficiently, and incorporating additional AgTech. When complete, the DMC Greenhouse updates will evolve the DMC in to a high-performing facility. In a growing industry, DMC’s evolution to include CEA provides a comprehensive growing laboratory for flowers, food, and the mind.