(Colorado Springs, CO) The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs uses more than 3,500 heads of romaine lettuce each month. The zoo's world-renowned giraffe herd enjoys the leafy greens, especially when a cute toddler is hand-feeding it to them.
Imagine the benefits of growing all the lettuce on-site. That is exactly what the zoo is trying to do!
In July 2021, the zoo modified a freezer shipping container to create a grow house for lettuce. The well-insulated, temperature controlled structure protects the plants from Colorado's extreme weather conditions, a necessity for year-round growing.
The shipping container has been used to grow lettuce, kale, and chard, and it has been so successful that the zoo recently added a second farm.
The newest growth pod is a metal freight container and it has sideways hanging plants on vertical panels instead of horizontal rows like the first farm. It is also fully automated. The zoo's horticulture team inputs the name of the plant species into a computer, and the system automatically delivers the optimal light, water, and nutrients for each panel. It is an innovative system with the potential to create a more self-sufficient, sustainable zoo.
The two container farms will allow the zoo to experiment with different planting and growing techniques and find the best system.
You can read more about the zoo's growth pods here.
The next time you visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, stop by the shipping container farm. It is behind the antique carousel near the play hills.
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