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NPNRD officials break ground on geothermal greenhouse project

(KNEP)
Published: Mar. 9, 2018 at 5:43 PM CST
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Ground has been broken on a new greenhouse project in Scottsbluff that will allow citrus and other produce to be grown year-round.

When completed in just a few weeks, the North Platte Natural Resources District geothermal greenhouse will have indoor temperatures appropriate for foods such as oranges and grapes. The greenhouse is part of a multi-phase project to promote education, donations and show the potential of the technology to area producers and businesses.

Barb Cross, NPNRD Assistant Manager, says the concept is proven to work in the Panhandle, with a similar greenhouse already in the Alliance area. "It's four feet into the ground," says Cross, "You dig down into the ground and you have tubes that are another 8 feet into the ground that come up. And the air is always 52 degrees 8 feet under the ground, and that air helps to warm in the winter, and cool in the summer."

Cross says some of the plants that will be in the greenhouse will also help regulate the temperatures, and there will be a backup system, which includes solar, that can assist if outdoor temperature extremes pose an issue. Along with sections of grassland to be planted nearby, the entire project is intended to not only help feed area residents, but also provide educational opportunities.

Produce will be grown and harvested year-round, and donated to a variety of groups in the area. "It's going to go to the Veteran's Home first, then whatever we have left over will go to CAPWN, " says Cross. "The Backpack program is interested, they need donations from us. All of the local food pantries throughout our NRD, which includes Morrill County, Garden County, Banner County, southern Sioux County, plus Scotts Bluff County."

Aside from the land, which is being leased for 15 years from the Western Nebraska Regional Airport, the project is entirely privately funded by a variety of area businesses, groups and individuals. Those who have contributed include:

Platte Valley Bank

First State Bank

Oregon Trail Community Foundation

WNCC

21st Century Equipment

Kelly Bean

North Platte Valley Water Association

ARI

Regional West Medical Center

Reinhardt Family Charitable Fund

Simmons Olsen Law Firm

Dan Weinreis

Steve and Susan Smith

Hoehn Farms

CPN Farms

Platte Valley Livestock

Brad Cross Memorial Fund

Banner Capital Bank

Fisher Roofing

Jackie Bishop

In-kind donors include:

B&C Steel

Paul Reed

Carr-Trumbull

Infinity Construction

Eric Reichert Construction

Adams Electric

Deines Irrigation

Rotary has also selected the project as their Rotary Gold Project, with a fundraiser scheduled for April 14, 2018 at the Gering Civic Center. Tickets are available at Plate Valley Bank in both Scottsbluff and Gering, or by calling Sandy at 308-631-3624.