THE Greenhouse

greenhouse-logoRibbon Cutting - April 4
Production Partners
Link to Greenhouse Temperature Controller

THE Greenhouse Project is partnering with Schaus Vorhies of Fairfield to put together a small food production hoop house for local schools. The project is located at 1000 W. Stone Street in Fairfield.

Schaus Vorhies has a manufacturing business. They burn/sand blast the paint off of agriculture equipment. The temperature in their furnace hood can get to 1600 degrees. That heat is blasted through a conduit that travels through their plant, heating as it goes. The final stage of removal of the heat from the plant, is a bag house where the impurities are removed from the air and the air and heat travels up a stack (above the building) to exit.

This hoop (greenhouse) will be heated by the waste heat coming out the stack at the plant, so the production facility will be located adjacent to the bag house air purifier. Testing of soil and air shows that this will be an ideal location and we expect that production will begin this fall/winter.


September 2013

  • Planning and prep for the worksite started

A view of the property where the greenhouse will be built.

October 2013

  • October was funding month
  • Groundbreaking
  • Volunteer opportunities


Detra Dettmann (Pathfinders RC&D), Mark Burnham(Schaus Vorhies Kleaning), Dick Reed (Jefferson Co. Board of Supervisors), Jan Swinton(Hometown Harvest), Kim Keller(ISU Extension & Outreach), Dee Sandquist(Pathfinders Board of directors), Beth Swafford(Fairfield Schools Lunch Program), Fred Mc Elwee(Fairfield School lunch program director).


Bryon Hancock(Hancock Plumbing and Electrical), Larry Larson(Radon Protection Services) , Mark Burnham(Schaus Vorhies Kleaning), Jan Swinton(Hometown Harvest), Dick Reed(Jefferson Co. Board of Supervisors).


Detra Dettmann, Dee Sandquist, Jan Swinton, Dick Reed

Construction Photos




November 2013

  • Construction Phase I continued


The bed for the greenhouse growing area is insulated down 6 feet deep (with 4 inches of pink insulation board) to preserve the heat for the plants.


The pex tube is installed 4 feet underground. It will carry the hot water out to the sand/soil to warm the earth.


 We had volunteers from the Horticulture Club at Fairfield High School –THANKS!


Putting in the concrete foundation under the poles that will hold up the trusses for the Greenhouse. 


 30 Truck loads of Certified Organic topsoil was moved into the greenhouse growing space.  Thanks to Dan Walker for his help with this. 


Finishing the plastic work along the ridge vent.


Putting up the trusses for the greenhouse structure. 


Thanks to Mark Burnham and the Schaus Vorhies folks! 


We were given this 17,000 gallon tank for use as a boiler (heat sink) to reserve heat for use in the greenhouse on weekends when the Schaus Vorhies plant is shut down.  It came from the Jefferson Co roads crew. 


The project as of November 20, 2013


December 2013

  • Construction continues

construction dec2013 02

The tank needed cleaning, inside and out. 

construction dec2013 01

Thanks to the Jefferson Co Road Crew for moving the tank into the SVK shop for cleaning and painting…

 construction dec2013 03

Stretching the double layer of plastic over the trusses….

David Alan Yoder from Fox River Produce was our builder for the greenhouse structure.   

January 2014

  • We kept working out the details of the waste heating system throughout the frigid winter.


February 2014

  • We set up the new growing space in the greenhouse
  • We put in 24-inch raised beds. There was room for 10 long rows.
  • The master gardeners installed the water lines, too.
  • Drip irrigation seems to be working.


Grinnell College volunteers cam and worked on insulation for the water heating system. 


Steve Keller, Master Gardener, helped till and set up the new growing space in the greenhouse.

March 2014

  • The Jefferson County Master Gardeners came to plant March 1.
  • Heating System is up and running! We are convinced that it won't get below 40 degrees in the facility, so we are planting traditional spring salad greens and sprouting peas.




Production Partners

Cory Klehm, Claude Nicholson, Kim Keller, Cary Spray, Steve McLaskey

Funding Partners

U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School Program

Schaus Vorhies Manufacturing – property owners and essential partners in getting the heating system working and the utilities hooked up and running.

Lonnie Gamble – Engineering Consultant

Tim Messenger – Engineering Consultant

Larry Larson, Earth & Air Tubes – design engineer

Jerry DePrey – Databus consultant.

Jefferson County Public Health – Funding for start-up equipment, fence system around the project, irrigation equipment and signage.

Alliant Energy – Bright Ideas sponsor; Funding for the heat transfer equipment.

Fairfield Community School District – The food grown in the greenhouse is for school lunches. Fairfield CSD will partner with five other local school districts to purchase food in bulk. This buying group will all be eligible for food from THE Greenhouse Project. It will all be initially washed and processed in the Fairfield CSD kitchen.

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) – Farm to School Chapter start-up

Budget for the effort? $67,600

What other sources of funding are committed or requested at this time?

USDA Farm to School grant ($100,000 but only $16,000 is committed to the greenhouse project)

Jefferson Co. Public Health committed $500 for signage

Iowa Department of Ag Land Stewardship committed $4000 for greenhouse seed, tools, and supplies

Fairfield Community School District - processing and storage of vegetables + ready market (committed ~$5000 in labor, storage and equipment)

Schaus Vorhies Manufacturing – committed land use and all electric and water bills for 25 years. ($300/mo for year 1 = $3600)

Alliant Energy committed ($30,000)

Trans-Canada Pipeline committed ($8,500)