University of Washington Farm Greenhouse

Executive Summary:

The University of Washington Farm (UW), a registered student organization, would like to build a greenhouse at our Center for Urban Horticulture site on campus. The UW Farm is partnering with the University of Washington chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) to plan and implement this project. In order to build a greenhouse, the UW Farm will need to level the ground at the Center for Urban Horticulture site, run electricity to the greenhouse, and equip it with benches and supplies for spring and winter vegetable production. Additionally, the UW Farm plans to install heated benches for seedling growth.

The UW Farm is currently renting a small space at the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH) greenhouse at a prohibitively high cost for only two months of the year. Building a greenhouse at the UW Farm will allow for a more flexible and productive planting plan, an extended growing season, and an overall increase in yearly production. A large portion of crops grown at the UW Farm is sold to Cultivate, the District Market and various other HFS locations. Extending the growing season with the greenhouse will allow the Farm to provide locally and sustainably grown produce to dining halls, restaurants and grocery stores on campus for a larger majority of the school year.

The EWB students will build the greenhouse from scratch. This will allow students to learn how to build a sustainable structure from the ground up, rather than putting together a pre-made kit.  The EWB students anticipate that it will be about $500 cheaper to build the greenhouse from scratch than using a kit. Additionally, the EWB students have decided to hire an engineer to run electricity to the greenhouse. The UW Farm will grade the site ourselves.

The student engineers and farm leaders will work in tandem, along with help from drop in volunteers and service learners, to build the greenhouse and develop a growing system. Each quarter, the UW Farm hosts between student service learners through the Carlson Center, farm leadership positions and the farm internship class.  Additionally, this grant will fund a greenhouse intern for a full growing season following the completion of the greenhouse. Professor Jennifer Ruesink, a biology professor at the UW, teaches the farm internship class on campus and has agreed to oversee the greenhouse intern. The EWB students are working under the advising of Professor Mark Benjamin, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington.

The UW Farm is requesting $22,310.00 to complete this project. The total cost did increase slightly from our original estimate however we were able to secure the tools for the greenhouse through other means.

Please see the chart below for a full breakdown of the costs. The total costs listed in the chart include an estimated ten percent sales tax and delivery fees. There will be no additional cost for utilities for the greenhouse or for the grading of the greenhouse site. 

Student Involvement:

The UW Farm currently hosts 40 to 60 students as service learners each quarter. Additionally, twelve students hold farm leadership positions and three students are enrolled in the farm internship class. The UW Farm is confident that these numbers will increase over time. While the construction of the greenhouse will be directed by EWB students with their faculty mentors as advisors, a large majority of the farm leaders and some of the student volunteers will be involved regularly with building the greenhouse and developing a growing system. The UW Farm is run primarily by volunteers with only have one paid staff-member, and will rely on student and volunteer labor to complete this project.

Seven EWB students have completely planned and set up a budget for the building of the greenhouse. They have decided to build the greenhouse completely from scratch and set up a plan and timeline for building it. Throughout fall quarter, work hours were held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1pm to 5pm, Tuesdays from 1 to 5pm and Thursdays from 9 to 11:30am, and every other Saturday from 9am to 2pm. Throughout spring quarter, a majority of these work hours will involve building and then planting and growing seedlings in the greenhouse. Volunteers and service learning students will learn hands on the benefits of a season extension and what goes into building, maintaining and working in a greenhouse.

Three farm leaders, Center for Urban Horticulture Managers (CUH), are in charge of leading the Center for Urban Horticulture workdays. These leaders will coordinate with the EWB students to plan the workdays that will involve working on building the greenhouse. While the CUH Managers will be most involved in the building of the greenhouse, there are many farm leaders who will be involved in the behind the scenes aspects of building and implementing the greenhouse. The Social Media Coordinator and Designer/Signage Coordinator will be in charge of publicizing and spreading awareness about the building of the greenhouse and the events involving the greenhouse.  Additionally, the 2 UW Farm photographers will help to document the process of building the greenhouse. The other six farm leaders will be on hand to assist other leaders in their positions.

Furthermore, the UW Farm plans to have a greenhouse intern for a full growing season following the completion of the greenhouse. The intern would oversee construction, coordinate volunteering efforts, plan and implement a greenhouse planting schedule from spring through fall, maintain the greenhouse throughout the growing season and plan and implement a winter growing schedule. Students will be actively involved in most of the aspects of building and working in the greenhouse and build further connections between people, our land, and our future since food is so intimately linked in all those aspects of life.

Following the completion of the greenhouse, service learners and volunteers at the UW Farm will have the opportunity to work with the plants grown inside of the greenhouse. Volunteers and service learners will have the opportunity to learn hands on the benefit of using a greenhouse in urban agriculture.

Education & Outreach:

The mission of the UW Farm is to be a campus center for the practice and study of urban agriculture and suitability. The UW Farm hopes to be an educational, community-oriented resource for people who want to learn about building productive and sustainable urban landscapes. The building of the greenhouse will help the UW Farm further these goals.

The UW Farm hopes to raise awareness about the positive benefits of using a greenhouse to implement the practices of urban agriculture. The greenhouse at the UW Farm will be built and implemented completely through student and volunteer labor. Volunteers and service learning students will learn hands on skills about what goes into building, maintaining and working in a greenhouse. Furthermore, the greenhouse intern will be involved in all aspects of the greenhouse, through planning what is grown, assisting with construction management and leading other students. The EWB students have been learning about what it takes to build a sustainable structure throughout the entire planning process. Members of the farm intern class, taught by Professor Jennifer Reusink, will learn about the building of the greenhouse and participate in the building and implementation of the greenhouse as part of the class curriculum. The UW Farm holds Farm Ed seminars each week at the botany greenhouse. Following the completion of the greenhouse the UW Farm hopes to relocate these classes to the new structure. The greenhouse will play an active role in the Farm Ed seminars and participants will be able to learn about what it takes to build a greenhouse from scratch and implement a planting schedule.

The UW Farm holds about 35-50 tours each year to UW classes, faculty, donors, and outside organizations. During spring quarter the greenhouse will have a leading role in these tours, as people on them will be able to see the greenhouse being built.

Following the completion of the greenhouse, the UW Farm hopes to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate our new endeavor. This event and the completion of the greenhouse will mainly be publicized through Facebook and our email newsletter that goes out to 1,137 subscribers. The UW Farm Facebook page has 1,729 likes with engagement around 2,000 views per week.

Finally, the UW Farm has been in contact with The Daily and hopes to have them include a feature about the new greenhouse. This will spread awareness about the project to members of the UW student body and faculty who are not actively involved in UW Farm workdays and volunteer hours. 

Environmental Impact:
  • Food
Project Longevity:

Environmental Problem:

The UW Farm currently has to almost completely shut down growing during winter months, as harsh weather and frost prohibit growth.  Building a greenhouse at the Center for Urban Horticulture site will allow us to extend our growing system through the winter months and produce more food throughout the school year. The greenhouse will provide stable growing conditions and shelter from the elements, making it much easier for these plants to survive the winter and grow into adulthood.

The UW Farm currently sells produce to University of Washington Housing and Food Services and Cultivate Restaurant. This past autumn quarter, 1938 pounds of produce from the UW Farm went to HFS and the UW Medical Center and 506 pounds of produce was donated to the University District Food Bank. These numbers will increase with a greenhouse because extending our growing season will allow the Farm to provide locally and sustainably grown produce to dining halls, restaurants and grocery stores on campus for a larger portion of the school year. The produce grown at the UW Farm is environmentally friendly, extremely-locally grown, and a great alternative to less local food sourced by Housing and Food Services. The extended season of production will lessen the carbon footprint of the University of Washington community as more locally and sustainably grown produce would be available.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

The UW Farm currently measures production by weighing the produce harvested and recording where it is sent. The UW Farm plans to measure the impact of the increased production that will result from the implementation of a greenhouse by weighing the produce produced with the new greenhouse and comparing those numbers to the production in previous winter quarters.

On a broader scale, urban sustainable farming is an experiment aimed at counteracting the environmental problems created by large-scale industrial agriculture. The practices used by large-scale industrial agriculture, including the use of heavy machinery, erosion and depletion of soils and the destruction of biodiversity from monoculture, have significant negative environmental implications. The UW Farm is committed to upholding the values and practices of urban organic farming. The greenhouse is a small addition to this goal that will enable UW students to better understand agriculture and innovative, sustainable ways to produce environmentally friendly food. 

Total amount requested from the CSF: $22,310
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


ItemComponentCost/ItemQuantityTotal Unit PriceDeliveryTax (10% default)Total Cost
Greenhouse FoundationGalvanized Steel, 1-5/8" diam, 17-gauge37.164148.647914.86242.5
Baseboards - 2" x 6" x 12 ft12.9716207.526120.75289.27
Post Pounder27.5127.502.7530.25
Post Driver Cap3013015348
DY-20 Hoop Bender1164.7920.46.4891.67
Concrete work1148048528
ToolsReciprocating saw blade18.97237.9403.7941.73
Cobalt drill bits6.47319.4101.9421.35
Marking Spray5.2715.2700.535.8
Framing and InsulationGalvanized Steel, 1-3/8" diam, 17-gauge11.3175848.25084.83933.08
Insulation 6mil245.72491.455.9832.39579.77
2x4 8'5.3730161.17916.11256.21
2x4 10'6.77427.0802.7129.79
Polycarbonate sheets - 4' x 8'50.957365.65035.67392.32
Wiggle Wire and channel21643282032.8380.8
Parachute cord, 1000'3913913.552.5
Silicone sealant, 9.8 oz6.24212.481.2513.73
Frame ConnectionsFlat brace bands0.422410.0801.0111.09
Perlin Clamp2.483996.7209.67106.39
Line rail clamp1.9611.401.1412.54
Aluminum Dome post caps0.5463.2400.323.56
Standard fence bracket1.163237.1213.033.7153.86
steel rail end cups (hinges)1.232024.615.732.4642.79
Steel u-bolts172727.279.2
Gate corners4.23833.8403.3837.22
Galvanized Deck Screws, pkg 1012.31449.2410.744.9264.9
Steel Eyelet Screws228.5400.859.39
Steel Eyelets Screws0.582210.9121.0923.99
Foundation bolts0.13344.4200.444.86
Heating System - Piping1" PVC pipe3.331859.945.9965.93
1" PVC cap (5-pack)2.4337.290.738.02
1" PVC elbows (5-pack)2.66513.31.3314.63
1" PVC Tee0.74107.40.748.14
1" PVC valve3.21238.43.8442.24
PVC solvent and cement7.4817.480.758.23
1" PVC coupling0.42229.240.9210.16
Zip ties, 100 pk11.23111.231.1212.35
Pipe insulation1.392838.923.8942.81
Heating System - Bench KitBench-top mat kit and equipment1,800.0011,800.001802,043.00
Heating System - HardwareBoiler Security100110010110
Benches2x4, 8', pressure treated7.1281576.7257.63634.39
Paint and Sealant40140444
Hardware Cloth70214014154
Dirt WorkDirt253895095950
Electrical Work (extending electricity)16,250.006256,250.00
Greenhouse Intern6,496.006,496.00

Non-CSF Sources:

Project Completion Total: $22,310


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Jig and arch testing2 days4/12/2014
Marking and digging1 day4/13/2014
Pipe prep, driving and leveling; bench making5 days4/18/2014
Arch and frame assembly2 days4/20/2014
Bench making5 days4/25/2014
End frame assembly2 days4/27/2014
Insulation setup2 days5/4/2014
Boiler and piping2 days5/11/2014
Bench-top assembly2 days5/18/2014
Boiler troubleshooting, touch-ups2 days5/25/2014

Project Approval Forms: