Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its affiliates and programs have always acted with the health and safety of our students, staff, and patrons as our primary priority, and in accordance with all government orders during this crisis. Our past anticipated re-open dates were based on the latest government orders. Based on the indefinite nature of Governor Tom Wolf’s latest order, we do not want to set an arbitrary re-open date. With the new guidance from the federal government and under the best-case scenario we are hoping to resume full operations Monday, May 4, 2020. However, this can certainly change.
For over 50 years, Manchester Bidwell Corporation’s success has come from adapting to the needs of the community and the market, and we are currently operating under that mindset. Please stay tuned to all our affiliates’ communications as they announce new, creative ways to provide the programming the community desperately needs.
Our foundational principles are steering us now more than ever. We must fill our new confined environments with beauty, light, and hope to shape positive behavior. We are relying on our creativity more than ever to fuel enterprise. Finally, in a time filled with despair, we must always remember people are assets not liabilities.
We appreciate your patience and help during this time.
Due to an abundance of caution and in concert with new state-wide guidance around COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC) and its affiliates and programs will be closed effective immediately. We will reopen March 23. Performances held at MBC will be postponed through March 31.
While there has been no report of COVID-19 infection in Allegheny County at the moment, we are prudently going to deep clean and sanitize all common areas and offices to help slow the spread of the virus. While closed, no one is allowed in any of our facilities without the approval of MBC President & CEO Kevin Jenkins.
During our closure, staff will still be compensated.
For our students and patrons, you will receive specific communication from our affiliates and programs, but we want to provide you with some basic information. Bidwell Training Center students, all programs will be extended by the amount of time missed due to the closure. For MCG Youth & Arts students, our upcoming spring enrollment and trimester will be postponed, and a new date will be announced. For our MCG Jazz patrons, customers with tickets to performances in March will be contacted with information on exchanges, donations, and rescheduled dates.
We will continue to stay in contact with appropriate officials and entities regarding any new guidance in slowing the spread of the virus. We ask that all staff, students, and stakeholders, stay tuned to our websites, social media channels, and emails for any changes to the current closure.
We sincerely thank you for your patience, cooperation, and understanding during this time.
Bidwell Training Center’s Culinary Arts and Horticulture Technology students, staff and faculty at Fifth Season.
Bidwell Training Center‘s (BTC) Culinary Arts and Horticulture Technology seniors will battle against one another in a cook-off. The event will mimic the famous competition show Chopped on Food Network. Each student must prepare a spectacular salad. The catch? They have to use Fifth Season, powered by RoBotany‘s flagship Bridge City Blend, create their own salad dressing and prepare seven servings of the dish in 30 minutes. Students must impress the judges in order to avoid getting “chopped,” meaning eliminated from the competition, in order to advance to the final cook-off round. Other requirements include:
a maximum of 4 “mix-in” ingredients can be used
total ingredient cost must be no more than 75 cents per ounce
participants must create a name for their salad and creative description
In the final cook-off round, students will be given a secret set of ingredients for an impromptu creation. The winner of the competition will receive a dinner for two at Superior Motors and a shadowing session with General Manager of Fifth Season Tejas Rane and Executive Chef of Superior Motors Brian Little.
In his first visit to Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC), Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera experienced first-hand how our organization combines many seemingly disparate elements – adult career training, youth arts education, jazz presentation and orchid and floral sales – into a dynamic whole with a proven record of positively changing lives.
Rivera took a tour of MBC and met with President and CEO Kevin Jenkins and several executive directors including: Vice President of External and Government Relations for MBC Joanna Papada, Executive Director of Bidwell Training Center Dr. Kimberly Rassau, Executive Director of MCG Youth & Arts Justin Mazzei, Director of Greenhouse Operations Mark Wallace and Government Relations Consultant Mary Ann Eisenreich.
MBC thoroughly enjoyed Rivera’s company. We are thankful of his support of our mission and educational model.
Left to right: Government Relations Consultant Mary Ann Eisenreich, MBC President and CEO Kevin Jenkins, Vice President of External and Government Relations for MBC Joanna Papada, Executive Director of Bidwell Training Center Dr. Kimberly Rassau, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera and Executive Director of MCG Youth & Arts Justin Mazzei.
Left to Right: Director of Greenhouse Operations Mark Wallace and Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera
The Drew Mathieson center for Horticultural and Agricultural Technology (DMC) remains dedicated to the preparation for the next stage in the DMC greenhouse operational evolution: the transition of approximately one-half of the existing commercial production space from floriculture to Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). DMC is collaborating with strategic partners to break down the entire system into individual segments and identify associated best practices.
Early in the research process Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability and Environment was identified as a valuable collaborative partner organization. DMC partnered with Chatham University as a case study for two graduate-level courses, Fall 2018’s Applied Green and Social Innovation and Spring 2019’s Urban Agriculture.
Chatham University students received an in-depth orientation to DMC’s unique operating model, its history, and an outline of DMC’s CEA initiative. Students in the Applied Green and Social Innovation course developed and provided the “Hydroponics and Controlled Environment Agriculture in Western Pennsylvania Product Market Report.” The report reinforced the need to establish a market and sales outlet before produce is grown or harvested. Niche opportunities are available in the hydroponics and CEA markets through smaller regional distributors of produce and local restaurants. Hydroponic crop recommendations were included with projected volumes and crop price comparisons. The market research concludes organizations are seeking out local vendors with an emphasis on crop quality, selection, and price.
The Urban Agriculture students reinforced the need to develop a systems approach surrounding the transition to CEA and the potential impacts. They provided guidance to determine initial business planning metrics, identifying strategic partners, challenges, considerations, and opportunities.
This initiative represents a strategic investment in the CEA industry. The initiative will work to be a catalyst for market and industry growth that will be driven by consumer success and unique educational opportunities. The DMC and Chatham University collaboration is an example of partnerships that work through expanding our organizational impact by the combining of an established urban horticultural and agricultural facility with the research and academic influence of an expanding, cutting-edge university program. Unique and creative partnerships will continue to pave the way for new opportunities focused on research, education, and our ability to cultivate new sales and the expansion of our partner base.
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.
Poinsettia crop in the DMC Greenhouse. Photograph courtesy of Mark Wallace.
The Drew Mathieson Center for Horticultural and Agricultural Technology (DMC) marks its eighth year producing locally grown Poinsettias for the winter holiday season. The DMC Poinsettia crop is one component of a rotating specialty crop schedule that includes Mother’s Day hardy hydrangea and an early summer perennial hibiscus crop.
The 2018 DMC Poinsettia crop features over 2,200 plants and is a mix of traditional and unique varieties. The crop includes traditional six-inch and eight-inch Poinsettia in decorative pot covers and the DMC Greenhouse Signature Poinsettia topiaries.
The DMC production team incorporates an artisan approach to all crops grown at the DMC Greenhouse. This skilled, hands-on traditional production approach begins with rooted Poinsettia cuttings that arrive in the greenhouse in early July. The production process continues throughout the next five months with daily cultural care techniques.
The DMC Greenhouse 2018 Poinsettia crop will be available for retail purchase launching at the DMC Annual Open House event. Wholesale pre-ordering is underway and Poinsettia delivery will begin Monday, November 26th, 2018. DMC Poinsettias can be purchased as individual plants or in coordinated complementary arrangements. DMC plant products provide a high-quality and socially responsible distinction when used as corporate gifts, seasonal event decorations, or purchased in the retail market. Incorporating DMC plants into your life, throughout the year, supports the educational programs of the DMC and Manchester Bidwell Corporation.
Poinsettia Care Tips
1. Keep in temperatures between 65–70 degrees
2. Keep moist but not in sitting water
3. Sun can be provided
4. Can be kept year-round with morning sun and water on a regular basis
5. To re-flower keep the plant in absolute darkness from sundown to sunup every day from October 1
“Where flowers bloom, so does hope” is a well-known quote from former first lady Lady Bird Johnson. As MBC celebrates its 50th anniversary, The Drew Mathieson Center for Horticultural and Agricultural Technology (DMC Greenhouse) celebrates 15 years of growing hope.
From the establishment of the DMC Greenhouse in 2003, phalaenopsis orchids have flourished in the production greenhouses along with the students who have learned and been inspired within the 40,000-square-foot greenhouse facility.
The DMC Greenhouse production schedule and associated educational programming have evolved over the years to reflect the needs of the market and the horticulture and agriculture industry.
The DMC Greenhouse is embracing an operational plan with the goal of developing into a world class comprehensive educational and community resource and the continuing goal of being a successful and sustainable social enterprise.
The operational plan includes the ongoing development and expansion of youth programming focused on enriching the student STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) experience, enhancing and expanding existing adult career training, and partnering with like minded organizations to develop beneficial industry related relationships.
According to a recent report, Pennsylvania Agriculture – A Look at the Economic Impact and Future Trends, “The agricultural industry generates approximately $135.7 billion in total economic impact each year and supports 579,000 jobs with $26.9 billion in earnings.” Hydroponics, aquaponics, vertical farming, and aeroponic systems have been outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture as having numerous applications related to community development and sustainability, commercial production, and educational initiatives for various populations.
An integral element of future DMC Greenhouse operations include some of these sustainable operational systems, including a rain water harvesting system, transitioning to LED grow lights, solar panel installation, update of automated greenhouse environmental control system, expanding organic practices, and more. The addition of various innovative production technologies, including expanded hydroponic systems (vertical farming), aquaponics, and aeroponics as functioning production systems will ensure that the DMC Greenhouse remains on the cutting edge of the horticultural and agricultural industries. The potential transferable nature of these innovative greenhouse systems and production technologies will result in unique creative industry partnerships, increased environmental safety, and increased access for community members and community organizations to ensure a bright future for the DMC Greenhouse, as we continue to grow, teach, and inspire.
Drew Mathieson Center’s Seeds in the City Landscape Design course.
Drew Mathieson Center’s Seeds in the City program provides middle school students with immersive, project-based learning opportunities in a variety of STEAM fields. DMC’s third year of youth programming saw 12 students enrolled in the Seeds in the City Landscape Design elective transform from students into professional landscape designers and experts in sustainability.
The transformation began when Manchester Academic Charter School students in seventh and eighth grade traveled to Ohiopyle State Park, a first for all students involved. Students learned about the new Laurel Highlands Falls Area Visitor Center’s green roofs and biological wastewater treatment system and met with client Ann Talarek, horticulture specialist at Fallingwater. Talarek tasked students with creating sustainable, native planting plans for a stretch of curbside rain gardens, also known as bioswales, in Ohiopyle’s business district.
Installed in 2010 as part of the Ohiopyle Green Infrastructure Project, the rain gardens collect and filter stormwater runoff easing stress on existing sewage systems and helping to keep the Youghiogheny River and Ohiopyle Falls clean from contaminates. Some residents have found the gardens to be high maintenance and in need of better upkeep. Talarek reached out to DMC’s Landscape Design class to come up with solutions for these issues.
Each student designed a scale planting plan for one Sherman Street rain garden with an emphasis on ease of maintenance, maximization of stormwater absorption, and year-round visual interest. Talarek plans to incorporate student designs when the gardens are planted this spring.
In addition, students Ryen, A’Niyah, and Tyrone also presented their work at Chatham University’s Seeds of Change: Igniting Student Action for Sustainable Communities conference. A joint venture between Fort Cherry School District, South Fayette School District, and Chatham University, the conference was held at Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus, home to the Falk School of Sustainability.