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Campus & Community

Drexel Opens Community Greenhouse in Stratton Hall

May 11, 2021

The renovated greenhouse space. Photo credit: Scott Dunham.
The renovated greenhouse space. Photo credit: Scott Dunham.

Bring your own seeds! Drexel University has updated the greenhouse located on the third floor of Stratton Hall for botanical use by the Drexel community, and any students, faculty or professional staff members can request to use this space and onsite resources to grow plants. 

Drexel Real Estate and Facilities opened the space on May 11, and can provide tables, growing trays, pots and soil to Dragons who want to use the space. There is a working water source to use on site, and the space has plenty of sunlight — even with the Chestnut Square tower across the street. Users will just need to use their own seeds and take care of nurturing what they grow. 

The space will be available on a first come, first serve basis; requests for scheduling and/or information can be sent to greenhouse@drexel.edu. The greenhouse will be opened during normal operating hours for the rest of the spring term. It will be closed over the summer (it’ll be too hot by then and an adequate cooling system was unable to be implemented), and is planned to reopen in the fall.

“The greenhouse is meant to be something used for fun, so hopefully we are able to figure out how to keep everyone’s plants alive without making it into a chore,” said Director of Grounds Scott Dunham.

Tables ready to be used in the greenhouse. Photo credit: Scott Dunham.
Tables ready to be used in the greenhouse. Photo credit: Scott Dunham.

The greenhouse had been used for research purposes over the years by various departments, but “over time it was used less and less and eventually became an unusable space that was all but forgotten about,” said Dunham.

He’d thought about rehabilitating and using the space many times over the 10 years he’s worked at the University.

“My original thought was that if there was enough interest to actually get some decent use out of it, I could ask for help in keeping ground covers or annuals alive that ultimately would be planted on campus,” he said.

With the University City Campus closed and then slowly repopulated over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in the last year or so, it seemed like the perfect time to make that dream a reality. The work started in the summer of 2020, when the owners of the research equipment removed items from the space and any useful remaining items were disassembled and moved into storage. A review of the ventilation and lighting showed that most systems were still in working order — “just some elbow grease and a few new light bulbs and we were back online with the ability to vent the space to release excess heat and monitor conditions remotely,” Dunham said. After that, the greenhouse was fully cleaned and organized, and made into an accessible space for the community to use, all thanks to the help of colleagues in Maintenance, Custodial, Utility and Mechanical Services.

Interested in trying out your green thumb? Email greenhouse@drexel.edu to be added to the greenhouse’s user list and start thinking about what you’d like to grow!