Hillsdale College expands green­house to provide space and light to plants. Jade Juniper | Collegian

After years of strug­gling to provide plants and flowers for the college’s various events, Hillsdale has finally ren­o­vated and expanded the green­house at Hayden Park to solve this problem.

The college hired Green­house General Ser­vices in con­nection with Greyhawk Green­house Supply to com­plete the job in October. The college has col­lab­o­rated with these com­panies in the past for repairs, and for the relo­cation of the polyhouse. 

The entire project took about a week and a half to com­plete, and added an addi­tional 48 feet to the existing green­house, making it nearly 150 feet in length.

Hor­ti­cul­turist Angie Girdham said the primary reason for expanding the green­house was that they “simply ran out of space.” 

In the past, several local growers have been respon­sible for sup­plying Hillsdale College with plants for Com­mencement and Slayton Arboretum’s annual fundraising plant sale. Girdham has been wanting to grow the plants for major events instead of out­sourcing them for a long time. 

“I’m happy to be bringing the growing in-house so that I can monitor the crops more closely,” Angie said. “Com­mencement and the fundraiser are such important events and it has always been dif­ficult for me to not be more in control of the quality of the plant material we receive.” 

Over the past few years, pallets and plants were being put on the ground and squeezed into any available spot in the green­house, which kept indi­vidual plants from getting the proper amount of sun­light and space. 

Last year, the green­house sup­plied all of the plants for the the arboretum’s annual fundraising sale, in addition to sup­plying all the plants on campus, which amounted to about 7000 plants. The green­house is expected to surpass that number this year. 

“The past few years we have used every inch of growing space plus most of the floor to grow the flowers for the campus orna­mental beds and the plants for the Arb’s annual fundraising plant sale. The space is some­thing we have needed for a little while now,” Girdham said. 

ecause of recent ren­o­va­tions to the green­house at Hayden Park, Hillsdale College will no longer need to out­source plants from other growers for college events. Jade Juniper | Collegian

Girdham works with several stu­dents inter­ested in hor­ti­culture, one of which is junior Adrianne Fogg, who has been working with Girdham in the green­house since 2017. In the winter, stu­dents like Fogg spend a good deal of time in the green­house seeding, watering, and transplanting. 

“Most of the work happens during the Spring semester, but we begin some of the prep work for the various events in December,” Fogg said.

Junior Arena Lewis has also worked with Girdham, growing and caring for plants this semester. 

Lewis is par­tic­u­larly excited about the expansion because it will allow them to grow the flowers and ferns used on stage for com­mencement and con­vo­cation, in addition to their usual output.

“It’s nice because now Angie can grow the plants for com­mencement and other large events instead of having to out­source,” Lewis said.