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Ag Department Proposes Greenhouse

March 26, 2013
Kelsey Buck , Emmetsburg News

Agriculture education instructor, Randy Nosbisch, presented a proposal for a greenhouse at the Emmetsburg school board meeting Wednesday evening. Nosbisch is hoping to improve the ag department and FFA organization by building a greenhouse on the high school property.

"My students would like to operate a greenhouse," said Nosbisch. "Those using the facility would be ag education students and/or FFA members. It would be a 21 foot wide by 48 foot long greenhouse that could be operated year round The three main types of plants we would focus on growing would be mums in the fall, poinsettias in the winter and then annual hanging baskets, flowers and starter vegetables in the spring and summer."

Nosbisch and his students feel the greenhouse would improve the quality of the education for the agriculture students. "There is a trend of increasing enrollment in agriculture courses. We could all use a place to learn the 21st century skills I would like to teach them," said Nosbisch.

Life responsibilities and SAE or "supervised agricultural experience" development would also gain from this project. "SAE is a component of FFA where students have projects, jobs or entrepreneurships where they apply what they learn in the classroom to the outside world. Some students may not have the opportunity to get a job or have a parent to hire them on the farm and this greenhouse would give them the opportunity to grow their own product and use that as their supervised agricultural experience."

The greenhouse hopes to increase the pride and agriculture education in the community as well. "Having something that my students take leadership and pride in can be conveyed to the community and they can see that there are positive things happening in ag education in Emmetsburg," said Nosbisch.

The possible greenhouse would be made of a double-poly material and steel frame with a thermostat to automatically control ventilation. "If it's too hot in the greenhouse, fans will decrease the heat and allow the ventilation to go through which will allow crops to be grown inside all year round," said Nosbisch. "Currently in my classroom, we have a cattle tank filled up with dirt with a hydroponic light. We have tried to grow plants in there but have not been successful due to quality."

The proposed site would be by the bus barn on the west side. An estimate of $35,691 was given for the project. FFA fundraising would pay for a quarter of the initial costs. The school would cover the remainder with a partial repayment plan in place to pay back what was gifted to them through plant sales.

"In real life, we have notes and debts and if you wanted to have an actual business, you would have payments. I feel that is appropriate," said Nosbisch. The volume of sales would not be large enough to take away from any area businesses. Vegetables could potentially be grown for use in the lunchroom as well with proper sanitation and food safety precautions.

"This could restore the pride in future agriculture education in the community. I feel Emmetsburg is very strong in agricultural industry and the students behind me today are the future. I believe my students would stay around Emmetsburg if they feel they have good opportunities in agriculture and I can show them those through the greenhouse and getting outside the four walls of my classroom," said Nosbisch.

"You'd be surprised how many students do not know how to work in a garden or produce their own vegetables" said Nosbisch. "Those are life skills that they can use down the road."

Construction would potentially begin over the summer so it is ready for use in the fall. "I would love to have a sale in the fall. I would like to get it going as fast as possible," said Nosbisch.

Nosbisch will obtain estimates for monthly ongoing fees. "I think it's a great idea. We just need to find out a few things before we can actually act on it," said board member, Scott Kibbie.

Board member, Rick Brennan, brought up fundraising in the community. "Have you done any fundraising with ag businesses in the community?" asked Brennan. "I can't speak for any of them but I think this is a project that's training our youth to be involved in ag industries. You may find some support out there but I think the school should be involved in at least half of this cost."

"April 20, we'll know where we are with West Elementary bids," said superintendent John Joynt. That will determine if we have any projects. If bids come in low, we will have the opportunity to do more projects."



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