CMZoo repurpose old cargo containers to grow more sustainably sourced lettuces

Stephanie Graham

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CHEYENNE, CO - Cheyenne Mountain Zoo will recycle empty shipping containers into a high-tech, ecologically friendly lettuce growing facility. Old containers will continue to be important in the future due to their strength.

The CMZoo makes extensive use of hydroponic lettuce plants. A hydroponic lettuce farming system was created to maximize productivity, with one of the lettuce plants serving as giraffe food. Using old containers as a freezer guarantees that the container is extremely airtight, insulating it from the strong heat of Colorado.

"It fluctuates throughout the year, but on average, we use more than 3,500 heads of romaine lettuce per month," said Alex Crochet, CMZoo horticulture curator.

Crochet hopes that the hydroponic lettuce project at CMS will inspire more gardeners, especially those who visit CMZoo. Later one container will produce about one hectare of lettuce using only 40 gallons of water every day. To collect excess water and filter it again, CMZoo uses a dehumidifier.

The hydroponic system itself only uses a regular shower to keep the lettuce wet. Because lettuce needs a lot of water, it shouldn't be too much, so it doesn't go bad. Later, the lettuce will be ready to be harvested every one week, and then new lettuce is planted again.

Now the container has used the help of electricity to work faster and then connected to the water supply. After that, the team will start planting lettuce immediately.

If you want to see the process and how the fresh lettuce has been cooked, you can take a peek at the glass door of the container that the CMZoo team has prepared.

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