Western Nebraska to See Solar-Powered Greenhouse

Wed December 27, 2017 - Midwest Edition #26
Construction Equipment Guide

The North Platte Natural Resources District is raising funds for a solar-powered, geothermal-heated greenhouse.
The North Platte Natural Resources District is raising funds for a solar-powered, geothermal-heated greenhouse.

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) A western Nebraska natural resources district is raising funds for a solar-powered, geothermal-heated greenhouse to grow oranges, lemons and other tropical fruit.

The North Platte Natural Resources District's greenhouse project would include an outdoor learning facility to promote the district's research and education goals, the Scottsbluff Star Herald reported.

Solar panels on the greenhouse would provide the $500 worth of electricity needed to maintain the temperature at 54 degrees.

The greenhouse would measure 126 by 17 ft. and stand 14 ft. high. It's expected to have room for up to 21 trees.

“I don't plan to plant that many — maybe 15,' said Barb Cross, the district's assistant manager who is overseeing the project.

More than 20 local donors have contributed to help match a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The project is expected to cost about $75,000.

“This is all through donations. We are not using tax dollars for this project,' Cross said. “The support from the community has been huge.'

Construction would begin in the spring, pending expected approval of the grant.

The facility would be open to the public. Food grown in the greenhouse would be donated to the West Nebraska Veterans Home and regional programs such as Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska, food pantries and school backpack programs.

Berge Sauter has volunteered at a garden center and community greenhouse in Gering. The greenhouse could begin producing food as early as next fall, she said.

“We hope to have root vegetables to start distribution, and there will be a small outside garden, too,' Sauter said. “We're going to fill that thing. I'm so excited to work in there and see what we can do."

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