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US (CO): MCC Harvest Open House on July 11 gives community an up-close look at VHF farming

Morgan Community College (MCC) will host a community Harvest Open House in Poplar Hall from 9-11 a.m. on July 11 on its Fort Morgan Campus to celebrate the launch of MCC's FarmBox. The event will give the community an up-close look at state-of-the-art technology that promotes sustainable agriculture. Vertical hydroponic farming (VHF) methods maximize growth and minimize energy and water use.

The FarmBox is an ADA-accessible, repurposed refrigerator container with full-spectrum LED lighting that mimics sunlight. It has an area to house seedling trays to optimize germination, and the moveable grow walls house 3,888 plant spots. The FarmBox can grow 2.5 – 3 acres of multiple varieties of plants annually, harvesting 684 plants weekly with its labor-efficient grow tube system using 3 – 5 gallons of water per day.

"The FarmBox uses programmable logic (PLC) to operate lights, pumps, timers, valves, and other equipment to grow the product," said George O'Clair, MCC Electromechanical Technology Faculty. "The Electrical Mechanical Technology (ELMT) students study PLCs to operate those items. The FarmBox will be beneficial to the class to see an operating PLC in action."

Bill Miller, MCC Precision Agriculture Faculty, said, "We are taking our local vegetable crops and bringing them inside. I plan to integrate the FarmBox into courses such as agribusiness, agriculture marketing, and general crop production, providing students with hands-on experiences in nontraditional farming methods. I am excited about introducing this innovative initiative to our campus to enhance agricultural education overall. My goal is to collaborate with the community to expand food sources."


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