The Orion

Students grow plants at gym for cafeteria

Lana Goddu

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Brianna Mulvey, senior ecological, evolutionary and organismal biology major and Associated Students compost education coordinator brought the idea of tower gardens to the Wildcat Recreation Center. Photo credit: Lana Goddu

The Wildcat Recreation Center is growing its own vegetables using new technology that grows plants at double the rate and uses 90 percent less water.

The new grow beds, called tower gardens, are placed on the pool deck of the gym facility. Brianna Mulvey, senior ecological, evolutionary and organismal biology major and Associated Students compost education coordinator, was the brain behind the tower gardens. She is working with A.S. dining services to put the vegetables into the Marketplace Café’s local lunch.

“As soon as Eli showed me it I thought, ‘We have to bring this to Chico State,’” Mulvey said.

Mulvey said she was inspired to bring the tower gardens to the WREC by Eli Goodsell, former A.S. sustainability coordinator, who got the idea from a conference he attended in San Luis Obispo.

Mulvey got the funds for the garden through the A.S. Sustainability Fund, managed by the A.S. Sustainability Fund Allocation Committee. The fund was suspended this semester after Goodsell resigned from his position.

The WREC is currently growing basil, lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, oregano and cilantro, Mulvey said. It has already used some of the basil in salad dressings served at the Marketplace Cafe.

The tower gardens take up less room than normal gardening beds because they don’t grow outward, she said. They have a 20 gallon water tank that feeds the plant through the center of the tower and filters down through each of the single pods.

They are fed a mineral solution every two weeks and can grow wherever there is sun and power outlets.

The power outlet is connected to a tube that pumps the water to the plants constantly, so the plants are always being watered.

Electricity costs less than 70 cents per month, Mulvey said.

Lana Goddu can be reached at: [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter

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Students grow plants at gym for cafeteria