November 19, 2018
The living green wall inside the state-of-the-art, eco-friendly Danielle N. Ripich Commons building now includes edible plants.
Pak choi, romaine, Swiss chard, kale, spearmint, basil, oregano and parsley now make up a section of the wall. Some of the plants were grown on campus in the aquaponics lab at the Marine Science Center.
“Once they're grown to a certain size in the aquaponics lab, we transfer them over to the living wall and they’ll finish growing there,” says Alethea Cariddi, sustainability coordinator at UNE.
The wall, made up of 960 plants, is a prominent feature of the Ripich Commons on the Biddeford Campus.
Cariddi says that trying to include edible plants has been a challenge.
“We've had a lot of obstacles to overcome in terms of light levels,” she explains. “The edible plants need a lot more light than tropical ornamentals. We're not trying to maximize growth with the ornamentals, but for edibles, the bigger the better, so we need increased light levels. I think we're getting to the point where it's just about balanced and we're feeling pretty encouraged by that.”
Getting edible plants up on the living wall has been a collaborative effort involving UNE students from the Aquaponics Club and the Nutrition Club.
“It has been a great opportunity to get students involved,” Cariddi states. “We actually have a high school student from Baxter Academy for Technology and Science who is interning with us this semester. He has been a big help as well.”
The edible plants will eventually be harvested from the wall and sold as part of a fundraiser.