“CC students made this happen,” said Cord Parameter, the designer, builder, and hired head consultant of the greenhouse construction. “Even those graduating and leaving it behind just as it was coming to fruition.”
The Colorado College Greenhouse, located on 1026 Weber St., was a completely student-run project that finally reached completion in the spring of 2013. Rebecca Levi, a 2011 graduate, was one of the main motivators behind making the greenhouse proposal a reality.
“I started holding open panels in Armstrong and JFK, and spending tons of time sending emails to farmers, administrators, professors, students, neighbors of the farm, etc.,” Levi recalls. “My goal was to get feedback from the community while presenting our objectives transparently.”
Levi was elected chair of CC’s Farm Club her junior year, using her position for outreach to gain support for the greenhouse. “At first,” she says, “no one came. I kept holding the panels, and expanding on the proposal I had been writing with [the] help of other Farm Club members, but for months, only a few non-members came to the panels. That was definitely discouraging at the time…but I hoped the emails I sent out started a buzz about something going on in the CC-Farm-Greenhouse realm.”
Trying to convince the administration that investment in such a facility would be beneficial for both students and the success of the college was no easy task—especially since the CC Farm (formerly called the Garden) was relatively new at the time. Fortunately, members were dedicated to bringing the greenhouse into existence; they felt expansion was necessary since they had been borrowing space in the Facilities greenhouse.
“It felt like in order for the program to grow,” said Levi. “We needed to be equipped with the right tools that were ours, and one of the most essential tools for any farm is a place to propagate transplants.”
According to the original proposal, the club also thought the creation of the greenhouse would “increase awareness about the CC Farm and local organic food production, lengthen the growing season and therefore increase yield and variety, decrease transportation of school food, create an oasis for students to work together towards a healthier lifestyle,” and much more. However, while the motivation behind creating a greenhouse was there, the design required extensive research. CC Farm Club’s advisor Miroslav Kummel helped with the tactical side of this planning. He collaborated on layouts for the greenhouse and worked on flagging out potential locations as well.
The club’s diligence and persistence eventually gave way to the start of the greenhouse construction.
“I cried the day I found out it was completed,” Levi says. “It was a total dream of mine and I was so overwhelmed to know that all that hard work paid off.”
She had already graduated by the time the school funded and supported the greenhouse project, but nevertheless was thrilled that the long process had finally found success. Parameter, who had worked closely with Levi, said at the time, “to the original students who first dreamed this could happen, to those who were finally in place to make this greenhouse happen…I am so proud of all of you. Look what you did. You left behind this wonderful opportunity—students for years to come will learn by seeing with their own eyes that you can feed yourself and others by combining nature’s good works.”
Three years later, this still stands true. Madison Perlick, one of the greenhouse managers, says, “As of right now, the greenhouse functions as a space to grow fruits and veggies, make art, and relax in a healing environment.” The group, in a similar fashion to those who came before them, are also working on plans for the future of the greenhouse. Perlick says they are in the process of starting a seed library, and are trying to get the hydroponics system up and running again so they can raise fish. “[Ultimately], we would like to make the greenhouse a more open and accessible place for people to come learn about growing food and sustainability.”