A greenhouse operated primarily by Michigan State University (MSU) students has begun exploring new crops, including herbs, to produce a line of tea.
The Bailey GREENhouse, completed in 2012, gives students from MSU’s Residential Initiative for the Study of the Environment (RISE) the opportunity to experience hands-on learning about organic growing methods, composting and the food cycle. The greenhouse, which was built in partnership with Residential and Hospitality Services, the Department of Community Sustainability, RISE and the Student Organic Farm, is a passive solar hoop house intended for the production of certified organic culinary herbs and salad mixes.
Students plant, grow and harvest herbs and microgreens using soil from university composts. All of the produce is certified organic, and is sold to MSU dining facilities, including Brody Square, The Gallery at Snyder and Phillips Halls, the McDonel test kitchen and the Kellogg Center Hotel & Conference Center.
The new tea line was introduced at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center this past April. The effort involved students from outside of the horticulture program, such as business and packaging students, who were included in the preparation and release of the tea line.
The site surrounding the greenhouse was designated as the first organic no-spray zone on MSU’s campus and includes 10 raised beds along with experimental trials of nine compost mixes for raised beds. The landscape features blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb, apple, pear, paw paw, lavender, grapes and hops.
Bailey GREENhouse aims to demonstrate that a diversity of food can be grown in a small space. In addition, it helps students connect with food that they’re eating. One of the goals of Bailey GREENhouse is to become a stable entity with economic independence.