The university has it’s very own greenhouse, utilized by students enrolled in classes such as Botany and Ethnobotany, located on the third floor of the Science Center.
Students gain first-hand experience observing plants, researching how they react in certain environments and producing plants that may be used in certain courses for labs.
Some aspects of the greenhouse are controlled, so growth can occasionally continue during the colder months. Plants in the greenhouse vary, some being used for research projects, others that have simply acquired over time, and a few that are kept in there for conservation purposes.
The greenhouse was built in 2003, when the Science Center was completed. The previous building offered a greenhouse as well that was attached to an older part of the Science Center, but still serves as a place for plants to be grown, and then transplanted onto flower beds on campus.
Henri Maurice, associate professor of Biology, has taught both Botany and Ethobotany, implementing the greenhouse for his students to conduct research for the class.
“When students go into the greenhouse they see a small diversity of plants and are fascinated by some of the specimens we maintain,” Maurice said. “Sometimes they can see a pineapple plant that is actually flowering or even producing a small pineapple. Sometimes we may have a sensitive plant and when the leaves are touched they fold and drop almost immediately upon contact.”
The greenhouse offers a chance to conduct research that cannot be done in any other type of facility that most colleges offer. Students being able to plant seeds, see them sprout, and grow into plants and yield flowers or fruits is essential to the learning process.
“You cannot do that very well in a laboratory with fluorescent light fixtures,” Maurice said. “It needs to be done in a greenhouse.”
However, there are still downsides to this greenhouse.
“Things need to be organized better and we probably need to thin out the collection of certain plants. There are things we could probably upgrade,” Maurice said. “The location of the greenhouse is, however, a huge problem. The concept of having a greenhouse on the roof of the building is interesting but greenhouses are not necessarily meticulously landscaped locations and we water plants at least a few times a week which means the floor gets wet.
Maurice said water seeps down through the floor into the ceiling of the room below as a result of the wet floor, which can be problematic.
The greenhouse is mostly maintained by students who are assigned to conduct research up there and there are currently no plans to move the greenhouse to a different location.