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2008 News Releases

Longwood Greenhouse Reopens in the Chichester Science Center

January 28, 2008

Green House Longwood University Greenhouse

The Longwood University Greenhouse reopened late in the fall semester in its new home atop the Chichester Science Center.  The new 1,330-square foot facility provides additional space for botanical research, education, and campus/community outreach conducted by the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

The greenhouse is divided into two large rooms that provide specific controlled environments for particular plant groups.  Each room is 562-square feet and is filled with an abundance of natural light from skylights and windows. The humid room supports tropical and subtropical plants from across the globe, while the dry room is conditioned to support cacti and other succulent plants from desert and temperate environments.  A smaller third room functions as the work room, providing space for students and faculty to propagate and care for the facility’s several hundred plant species.  Specific environmental conditions in the greenhouse’s three rooms are maintained by a sophisticated network of environmental control systems that include a rooftop weather station and computerized shade, vent, heating, and cooling systems as well as electronic misting and fogging systems.

Green houseThe new facility houses representatives of both common and rare plant families with specimens demonstrating an incredible array of plant adaptations and diversity.  The extensive collection provides an outstanding resource for faculty teaching the mechanics of plant structure and function, the diversity of life, and principles of ecology and evolution. This living laboratory also provides expanded opportunities for Longwood biology and environmental science undergraduates to conduct botanically-related research, as it houses dedicated lab space for students and faculty to accomplish both class-directed and independent studies on plants and ecological systems.  In addition, professional training opportunities exist for undergraduates to study as semester interns in greenhouse management. 

Under the supervision of greenhouse director Dr. Mark Fink and co-director Dr. Thomas Akre, both assistant professors of biology, three biology undergraduates successfully completed internships in fall 2007.  The students were instrumental in helping to bring the new greenhouse online and building a new high-intensity light stand to supplement plant propagation efforts.  Future opportunities to engage undergraduates in plant research and greenhouse management will continue in 2008 with the installation of a student-designed water feature that will support a diversity of aquatic plant life from around the world.  In addition, undergraduates will be involved in the establishment of a greenhouse website that will, among other things, house an online database of the greenhouse collection.

Longwood’s greenhouse also provides an outstanding educational resource for the campus and Farmville communities.  The greenhouse website will provide access to information on the specific plants and plant families housed in the greenhouse.  In addition, beginning in spring 2008, the greenhouse will offer weekly opportunities for formal and informal tours.