Former Golf Course Grows into State of the Art Hydroponic Greenhouse

Riverview Gardens has been turning the fairways of a former country club golf course into a much different landscape including garden beds, orchards and hoop greenhouses while an unused pool has been transformed into a year-round hydroponic greenhouse to grow microgreens, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs.

Exterior view of Riverview Gardens’ greenhouses.

For the last several years, Riverview Gardens (RVG) and its volunteers have been working tirelessly, transforming the fairways of a former country club golf course into a much different landscape. Portions of the original golf course have become garden beds, orchards and hoop greenhouses while other areas are being returned to their native prairie and woodland state.

One portion of the original property that was no longer being used was the outdoor swimming pool.

Collaborating with the Outagamie County Veterans Treatment Court on a project to help veterans adjust back into the community, RVG transformed the unused pool into a year-round hydroponic greenhouse.

The facility will provide job training opportunities for veterans in need of a safe and positive working environment, preparing them for a successful transition back into civilian life.

Interior view of Riverview Gardens’ hydroponic greenhouse.

Riverview Garden’s state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse is considered a best practice in the industry.

The 7,500-square-foot high-production facility is temperature controlled and useable year-round. Glazed with 18,000 square-feet of LEXAN™ THERMOCLEAR™ 15 Softlite, the twin-wall polycarbonate material will help reduce heat loss during the cold Wisconsin winter months.

In addition to having excellent thermal properties, covering the new greenhouse with polycarbonate panels made the most sense for its intended use. The material is durable and long-lasting, retaining its high light transmission, clarity, and mechanical properties for years. The 100 percent diffusion feature of the Softlite panel allows plants to benefit from high levels of light for growth while protecting them from harsh, intense sunlight.

RVG lettuce
Riverview Gardens’ lettuce is sold to local grocers, restaurants, hospital cafeterias and corporate cafeterias.

RVG’s hydroponic growing operation will include the incorporation of microgreens. Microgreens are vegetables harvested in their early stages of growth. This early harvest of the plant provides the peak amounts of nutrients to the consumer. Riverview Gardens plans on initially growing lettuce, eventually expanding to tomatoes and herbs.

Food grown on-site will be sold to local grocers, restaurants, hospital cafeterias and corporate cafeterias. Revenues will support RVG programs, aiding in achieving financial self-sufficiency for Riverview Gardens. The new hydroponics greenhouse is anticipated to generate more than $200,000 annually.

Miron Construction Co. Inc. of Neenah, Wisconsin, served as the design-builder on this greenhouse project, partnering with Somerville Architects/Engineers, Paul Boers Manufacturing, AmeriLux International, and 17 other companies who generously donated their time and materials

Click here to watch a time lapse video documenting construction of the hydroponic greenhouse.

Riverview Gardens (RVG) is a non-profit organization located on a former country club golf course in downtown Appleton, Wisconsin. An innovative, self-sustaining, social enterprise, RVG provides job training for people in need via its urban farm and financially supports other community outreach programs. To learn more about Riverview Gardens and their mission, please click here to visit their website.

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