True Greens

True Greens are microgreens grown by students for students sold during spring 2015 at Wild Greens in The Commons (and, we hope, in years to come!) If you want to grow your own at home, or in your office, here’s a resource created by a student in Creating Food Justice, Spring 2015:
“True Greens” and Earthboxes: The development on campus of production gardens and/or greenhouses that can deliver healthful microgreens and/or other produce to UMBC students, via dining services or some other outlet. Students in this project module will study similar initiatives in the K12, college and community setting, under private, public and NGO management. Students will develop horticultural, project management, and advocacy skills to understand what is required to grow plants successfully (or identify partners who can do so) and to navigate the “UMBC food system” (e.g. its partners and policies) to enable student-grown produce that moves from campus garden to plate. Students in this project will be working closely with TA Andres Camacho. For the EarthBoxes, we will be revamping 8 boxes on campus, and possibly 2 off campus at a Shriver Center supported YMCA afterschool program, and possibly, with the SUCCESS program. Students selecting this project will work with Instructor Jill Wrigley.



The first phase of the True Greens initiative, will consist of proving the model of productive green spaces on campus,  at small-scale. For the purpose of this phase of the project, students will be growing microgreens and work to incorporate that produce into the dining experience on campus.  Microgreens are vegetables that are harvested after 2-3 weeks. Common microgreens include basil, arugula, mustard, and countless others. At such a young age the plants have vibrant colors, great taste, and pack a nutritious punch. A University of Maryland study published preliminary results showing that microgreens contain more nutrients than their adult forms.

Just as important as their amazing taste and nutrition, microgreens are an ideal option for this current phase of the project because they can be grown in small spaces, have low start up costs and are easy to grow.

The first test batches of microgreens grown at UMBC


Current state of the project:

  • Currently we have $750 in the bank for spending on seeds, soil, marketing materials, etc.
  • We have 200 square feet of growing space in UMBC’s greenhouse to grow microgreens
  • True Greens has a verbal  purchasing agreement with Tom DeLuca, a Chartwells  Resident District Manager in order to feature produce at Wild Greens in the Commons building
  • We have partnered with the mechanical engineering senior capstone course. A team of students will be designing True Green’s technologically sophisticated hoop houses, with plans that construction will begin this summer.
Learning Objectives:
  • Students will learn how to design, organize, and measure multi-medium marketing campaigns


Project Goals/Objectives (some may be conditional, e.g., if we get permission for X, then Y)
  • Effectively manage a productive microgreens business, learning how to grow a perishable product and bring it to “market”
  • Gain first hand experience with how to approach a social problem with an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Interface with campus administrators and stakeholders
  • Market new produce offerings to campus community
  • Presentation at Grow UMBC Symposium
  •  Get campus grown produce onto the plates of students via campus dining services
  • Students will be able to meet weekly harvest projections  and fulfill microgreen deliveries
Project deliverables (may be more focused and specific than project goals)
 Develop and maintain a productive greenhouse growing space of microgreens
Comprehensive end of semester paper
Associated Learning Objectives
Actual or potential partners/collaborators
  • Chartwells
  • Biology Department
  • Imaging Research Center
  • Big City Farms
  • Great Kids Farms
  • The Garden
Current and potential stakeholders or interested parties (both on and off campus)
  • Chatwells
  • SUCCESS Program
  • The Garden
  • The campus Dietician (yes we have one!)
Skills and knowledge that will be useful to the project
  • Any gardening experience
  • Excel and other means of data collection
  • Marketing
  • Visual Arts (photography, graphic design, etc)
Resources (books, AV, people) for the project
  • 200+ sqaure feet of growing space in UMBC greenhouse
Budget and budgetary considerations
  • $750 Idea Competition prize money
  • Additional funding through INDS 430 class budget
Probable communication/outreach needs and opportunities
  • Microgreens tasting booth in front of Wild Greens to engage community with produce
  • Creating and selling DIY microgreens kits for college dormrooms
Preliminary needs and issues concerning the long-term sustainability of the project
  • Uncertainty what this project can actually be given that it will exist on this campus. A student run social enterprise that is selling produce to a third party on the campus. There will ineveitably be some administrative stuff we are going to have to work around
  • Determine the business structure and goals for True Greens
    • how much do we charge for various greens?
    • what will profits be for?
Likely or possible challenges this project may encounter
  • It may take us longer than expected to acquire the skills needed to produce high yields regularly
  • Long term challenge of keeping students involved that have the expertise needed run a farm day to day, delivering expected quantities and quality to customer i.e. Chartwells
  • Slow time table for getting approval or funding for hoop houses (the next phase of fullfilling True Green’s vision). This would hind the projects ability to grow it’s impact beyond sinply providing a few pounds of micro greens a week



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