Turning Nothing to Something

Guest post by Cameron Haire ‘18: With more than 70 clubs on campus, you might think that every possible interest is covered, but last year Meritt Wiggin, Matthew Mu and I came up with an idea for a new club to bring alternative horticulture to Gilman. We focused on hydroponics, a method of growing plants without soil, presented a proposal to Finance & Administrative Director Sean Furlong, and received funding.

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Our primary goal was to study the botanical principles of Mendelian genetics. Director of Plant Operations Wes Hummer worked with us to identify a site for a greenhouse, which we built over the summer in an open spot on the fields, near the track.

In our first growing season, we planted a mix of squash and tomatoes, lettuce, basil, and oregano. We tended our plants throughout the fall. By winter break, they were huge. It was exciting to watch them grow. We were looking forward to harvesting our crop when a windstorm knocked out the panels, killing all the plants and our plans to cross them to see the results.6

We were distraught by the destruction of our first season’s harvest, but were not going to give up our dream. So we went back to the drawing board. We are now in the process of building a greenhouse in the shape of Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Dome. The shape will stand up better to the wind. To make it even more sturdy, it will be sunk partially underground.

Meanwhile, our team’s resident filmmaker, Meritt Wiggin, documented it all. He made this cool film, which won the grand jury prize in the 2017 Gilman Film Festival.

This initiative turned out to be much more complicated and difficult than we anticipated. But we think the end result will be worth the effort.

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