Thursday, August 9, 2007

Module 2 - Greenhouse Construction - DUE SEPTEMBER 4th.

In many cases students will be planning to construct new greenhouses or purchases existing greenhouses when considering a new horticulture business venture. One often overlooked process is the planning involved with site selection.

There are many decisions to made in a business plan prior to the construction or purchase of a greenhouse. These are critical to economic success. I have met more than one gifted enthusiastic horticulturalist that met economic hardship by diving headlong into production without first spending the necessary time to come up with a thoughtful business plan.

New greenhouse construction in Chicago, IL. Image Source: clare and ben

Choosing the type of greenhouse you need for production is a complicated process. Sometimes a simple structure will suffice and may result in positive economic returns. Other times labor costs combined with a target wholesale market may be decision drivers in choosing a more complex structure such as that shown in the image above. This house below is a high profile gutter-connected range. Sometimes rolling benches are added to further maximize the utilization of light for crop production.

Large glass greenhouse range in Holland. Image Source: akbar1947.

  • Understand the importance of a business plan prior to making any decisions involving greenhouse operations or management.
  • List what decisions have to be made before the greenhouse business plan can begin.
  • List and explain a dozen factors that are integral to greenhouse site selection.
  • Be able to recognize and name different types of greenhouse structures.
  • Identify the various components of a greenhouse.
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different types of glzing materials.
  • Discuss economic factors to consider when constructing a greenhouse.

growing period
growing media
annual production
marketing system
investement capital
property value
labor law
H2A Visa
building code
low tunnel
high tunnel
water quality
gutter connected
high profile
snow fence
low profile
safety glass
plastic resins
gutter connected
bench washing machines
even span
uneven span
float glass
tempered glass
ebb and flow
bar cap
rolling benches
galvanized metal
expanded metal

  1. Read summary of Greenhouse Construction from WSU as a primer.
  2. Read Chapter 2 in your textbook. pgs. 41-90
  1. Watch the Site Selection microlecture. This mini-presentation is about 22 minutes, so depending on your Internet Connection Speed it could take anywhere from 5 to 50 minutes to download. I would start the download process and then read your texbook while you wait.

  2. Watch the Greenhouse Construction microlecture. This presentation will walk you through the basics of greenhouse construction to supplement your textbook reading.

  3. Watch the Greenhouse Glazing microlecture. This presentation will help you review the material covered in the text.

  4. Watch the Greenhouse Benching microlecture. This lecture covers the variety of benching material that you may find in the world of greenhouse operations.

  5. Watch the structure videos from each of the greenhouse locations we will be highlighting this semester. (at the bottom of this section)

  6. Watch the video from Kraft Gardens in Florida entitled "Building for Hurricanes." (Below)

  7. Review greenhouse construction by viewing the following slides.

  8. Last week you were asked to visit a greenhouse and take some pictures (if you have access to a camera...don't worry about images if you don't have a camera). Please post the name and location of the greenhouse you visited to the discussion board. In additional include the following on the discussion board: Briefly describe the business (i.e. wholesale, retail, bedding plants, mass market, specialty, etc.) Briefly describe some of the site characteristics. What do you think worked about the layout of the greenhouse or greenhouse range? Was there anything you might change? (10 pts)


I. Organic University: Greenhouses for year-round food and farming Part 1: Greenhouse site selection Before you get there, you need to know just where you?re growing. By Katie Olender

A good review of some major site selection factors for those interested in organic food production in greenhouses.

II. Selecting and Building a Commercial Greenhouse

By John W. Bartok, Jr., Agricultural Engineer at the U. Mass Amherst.

A great review of all major site selection factors. This is the reference that much of the microlecture is based on.

III. Sample Manufacturer Brochure on Greenhouse Design and Overcoming Site Selection Difficulties.


STUDY QUESTIONS (Answer in Complete Sentences)
  1. for the purposes of this question imagine that you are going to start a new greenhouse business at your current place of residence. In this imaginary scenario the area of land you have is not limiting nor is capital for investment. (10 pts)
    • Discuss the Environmental, Land, and Resource Considerations for your site.
    • Do you think your site would be more suitable for a retail or wholesale business? Explain why.
    • What do you think the most limiting factor would be at your site? There is no right or wrong here, but explain the reasoning that lead you to your answer.

  2. Which side of a greenhouse should the headhouse be located on? Why? (10 pts)

  3. How is producing plants different from a manufacturing business such as making furniture? What are some similarities? (5 pts)

  4. List three federal government offices that have free information available that would assist in site selection for a new greenhouse. (5 pts)

  5. Compare and contrast 3 different types of greenhouse glazing materials that are commonly found commercially. Be sure to thoroughly cover the strengths and weaknesses of each. (10 pts)

  6. Describe the strengths and weaknesses of wood framed greenhouses as compared to metal framed greenhouses. (5 pts)

  7. What are the advantages of a high profile greenhouse? low profile greenhouse? sawtooth style house? (5 pts)

  8. What is the primary advantage of a gutter connected greenhouse? (5 pts)

  9. Describe 3 different types of benching. (5 pts)

  10. Describe important considerations for greenhouse directional orientation. (10 pts).

  11. What are some of the special features of the Florida greenhouse in the video that allow it better withstand damage from hurricanes? (10 pts)

  12. In what situations do you think a glass covered greenhouse would be appropriate? Are there situations where double poly might be preferred? (10 pts)


Anthony said...

The greenhouse that I visited is “Rebekah’s Garden” which is part of Cline farm located in Eastover, S.C on old Leesburg road. The greenhouse is basically seasonal focusing more on bedding plant and vegetables. It is open to the public but they also have a smaller greenhouse that is located at the farmer’s market about twenty miles away. They one thing that I disagree with is the close location to a locale community and being uphill from the communities lake. They have a containment pond but it overflows in hard rains.

Anthony Lawson

Karl said...

The greenhouse range that I visited was Rux Garden's in Waynesville. They are a small, mostly retail operation that mainly produces and sells bedding and potted plants and some vegetables. They have an agricultural well which handles most of their watering needs. They do have an electric pump on site to pump from the nearby creek if necessary. Their greenhouses appeared to me to be a bit closer than suggest in the book which could limit their light uptake. The summer greenhouses are oriented with the ridgline running in a North-South direction, while their over wintering houses run in an East-West direction.
They are conveniently located just off of highway 19/23 which is beneficla for customers and delivery trucks.

0s0-Pa said...

Interesting stuff to get familiar with. Thanks for posting the key terms.
-Jon @ site selection