The Maricopa Community College District Governing Board authorized Mesa Community College’s request for a million dollar replacement and expansion of the land lab greenhouse. This project will replace the outdated 1,800 square foot greenhouse into a state-of-the-art 5,400 square foot infrastructure funded through the college-managed Arizona Prop 301, a voter-approved initiative providing millions of dollars to Arizona education.
The current greenhouse’s lack of function and above capacity class sizes negatively impacted student learning which prioritized a replacement. Bradley Kendrex, MCC’s vice president of administrative services, stated: “MCC’s original greenhouse was quite old and was due for a more permanent replacement… So, the college intended to add additional class sections and grow the program, which would require larger facilities.”
Plenty of job opportunities, career pathway workshops, and scholarships for students seeking a career in urban horticulture or sustainable agriculture are constantly available for MCC students, but without proper hands-on work, students are unprepared for the job market. This replacement guarantees an improved education and proper readiness for the work field.
“[The greenhouse is] going to give the students a tremendous opportunity to learn integrate house with all the technology that this [greenhouse] will have, they can take those skills wherever they go…” Peter Conden, MCC director of urban horticulture and sustainable agriculture, stated.
The new greenhouse is set to live up to this standard. According to Conden, the greenhouse will be separated into three zones to support all classes available for both the urban horticulture and sustainable agriculture programs.
The new infrastructure also allows the programs to integrate with the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture program. The two colleges will work together in collaborative course-studies and internships to gain experience.
Conden said, “[The greenhouse] will be growing hydroponic vegetables, and that will go towards our farmer’s market sales, so that will get money back to the program to purchase supplies and seeds… some of that food will also go towards local food, shelter, food pantries, or the Mesa Pantry.”
Brianna Beck is a journalism student at Mesa Community College.