Greenhouse continues to open its doors to the public

 Inside the lower greenhouse. Photo by Alex Ganeev.

Inside the lower greenhouse. Photo by Alex Ganeev.

The two greenhouses that are located on the UMD campus are open to the public all year around from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Unfortunately, not many people know about the accessibility to these spaces. Greenhouse manager Matt Jahnke said that the lower greenhouse is open to anyone.

“The awareness of the greenhouse is not where it should be,” Jahnke said. “A lot of people hesitate to go down there, they don’t realize that it’s a public space and that it’s a welcoming space where people can hang out in.”

Jahnke said that the lower greenhouse houses many plants of tropical kind that are not native to northern Minnesota. It also has a turtle named Freckle wandering around. Otherwise, it is just an area for the public to enjoy.

“If you want to go into the greenhouse and read a book or just sit down, I don’t have any problem with that,” Jahnke said. “As long as you don’t move any plants of course.”

The greenhouse offers cuttings on plants. While they do not offer free soil and pots, they help people with plant cuttings and advice on how to propagate, or breed, them yourself. The greenhouse is also a center for teaching and learning. Classes from the biology department and other departments come down to use the facility.

“Both majors and non-majors come down there,” Jahnke said. “Biology and Society for instance, even if they’re just going down there to observe something they have talked about, or grow specific plants for teaching purposes. Art classes will go down there and draw as well.”

 Inside the lower greenhouse. Photo by Alex Ganeev.

Inside the lower greenhouse. Photo by Alex Ganeev.

The upper greenhouse is often used for research. One of the current research studies is being conducted by undergraduate biology student Spencer DeMars under UMD Research Associate Dustin Haines. The study is called 2017 Slender Week Grass Experiment and the researchers received grass seeds from places where broken oil rigs have destroyed the ecology in the land.

“We trying to figure out what grass will best repopulate those areas,” DeMars said. “We’re still going through the data, but we have found that one has a significant different height change than the others out of the five.”

DeMars said that the study has no official ending point yet and will go on for at least a few more semesters since he has been asked to come back next year. Jahnke said that even though some spaces are only used for research, most of the greenhouses are open to anyone.

“The greenhouse is a public resource. It’s as much anyone else’s greenhouse as it is mine or any other worker’s,” Jahnke said.

If you are interested in volunteering in the greenhouse, contact Matt Jahnke via  mjahnke@d.umn.edu to discuss opportunities.

NewsIdun Rasmussen