Published 20/03/2018

Creating the climate needed to provide healthy, equitable and resident-driven produce

The GrowHaus, located in Denver, Colorado is a non-profit greenhouse operation that has successfully established a program designed to create a community-driven, neighborhood-based food supply system that serves as a hub for food distribution and provides educational and economic opportunities. Svensson's reflective Solaro shade screen allows the inspiring operation to create the greenhouse environment needed to provide healthy, equitable and resident-driven produce.

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The non-profit food hub operates out of Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, an area not only described as a ‘food desert’ but also identified as being the most polluted zip code in the country due to its industrial processing heritage which dates back to the 1800’s. Residents in this environmentally wounded area have historically lacked access to healthy, affordable food and therefore suffer from high rates of diet-related challenges. The GrowHaus is working to change these conditions by addressing the community’s access to fresh and healthy food options. The organization focuses on food- production, distribution and education, with the vision to catalyze a neighborhood-based food system that is equally healthy, equitable and resident-driven. “At the root of agriculture is culture and GrowHaus is really trying to build a strong culture by using food as the lens,” describes Co-Founder, Coby Goul.

The food production facilities at GrowHaus include a variety of innovative, sustainable and community-oriented urban farm techniques, including hydroponic and aquaponic greenhouses, a mushroom farm, seedling start nursery and a permaculture farm. Bib lettuce and other leafy greens such as chard, kale, arugula, spinach and cilantro are all produced in the 5,000 square foot hydroponic greenhouse. The crops are harvested every 1-2 weeks and are then distributed at cost to the residents of the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood through a food box program. The remaining greens are sold to local restaurants, grocery stores and specialty markets in Denver, including Whole Foods and King Soopers. The organization also operates a commercial-scale aquaponics system which occupies over 3,200 square feet.

In search of the right screen solution

Although Denver is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, production during the warmer spring and summer months has always been challenging for GrowHaus due to the high temperatures in the greenhouses. The Aluminet shade screen they were using at the time was not providing the adequate shade or ideal conditions they needed for their plants or employees working in the greenhouse. In search of a more efficient shade solution that would enable them to meet the yields required for produce distribution within the community, they turned to Svensson. The operation needed a screen solution proven to lower temperatures; but being a non-profit the funding was limited and required a cost-effective solution that wouldn’t break the bank or put them over budget. 

After taking into consideration the climate challenges, the crops they were growing and budget constraints, Svensson recommended Solaro 5120 O E, an open structure reflective shade screen. The reflective white Solaro screen had been proven to lower temperatures while also allowing more light in, giving the non-profit organization the ability to vastly improve their growing climate.

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Crops no longer suffer from heat stress

Since installing the reflective Solaro shade in September of 2016, the GrowHaus team has been extremely pleased with the screen’s ability to better manage their greenhouse climate. After using the shade for a full spring and summer cycle last year, their lettuce crops no longer suffered from heat stress and the working conditions for the employees has been much more manageable thanks to the cooler climate.

Following these positive results, GrowHaus has started a fundraising initiative to raise the funds needed to purchase Solaro for their second greenhouse, with hopes to stay ahead of the spring and summer heat in all their greenhouses. To support these inspiring initiatives, donations to the GrowHaus fundraiser can be made by clicking here.

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