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The future of agriculture

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 7:53 PM MDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2021 at 7:54 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Western Colorado has partnered with Violet Gro, a team of innovative thinkers who are developing technologies that will change the way we think about and grow our food.

Western Colorado is focused on becoming a national leader in unique agricultural practices that will push the industry forward. Thanks to this partnership between Violet Gro, the WCCC, and Grand Junction Economic Partnership, a unique greenhouse will soon be built at the WCCC to explore the indoor growing of food and crops.

”We were thrilled to find out that they are going to be opening up a new agricultural program at WCCC,” said Grand Junction Economic Partnership Deputy Director Steve Jozefczyk. “And at WCCC they’re going to be building a new facility to house their new Violet Gro UV lighting technology. And they’ll be using this new technology to do all sorts of different experiments to see how products grow indoors.”

“We can all do amazing things alone,” said Vice President of Community College Affairs Brigitte Sundermann. “But when we have partnerships with the school district and an industry like this, we are able to do things for the community, whether it’s through our ag program or viticulture or culinary, we’re able to do stuff through community ed. It opens another opportunity for the school district and their students to come and do this amazing piece with ag.”

The 1,500 square foot greenhouse at WCCC will be used as a teaching and research tool to study indoor growing as the industry evolves using different kinds of light.

“We wanna be able to test some natural light, no natural light, we want to test 18 hour grow cycles, 12 hour grow cycles,” said Violet Gro CEO and President Terrance Berland. “And we’re doing all of this with the intent to learn what makes the best light for a given plant. And then we can start building those lights.”

The Grand Valley established itself as a legacy agricultural area over a century ago. And as land availability decreases, and land costs as well as demand for food increases, the industry has started to look indoors to discover alternative ways of growing crops.

“Agriculture is a mainstay of this community,” said Sundermann. “It has really kept us going. And what we’re able to do with this particular technology is find some other opportunities to compliment what is already a thriving business in this community.”

The greenhouse will be built just outside of the composting facility on the north side of the building at the WCCC by the urban garden. This new program will open doors for not only agriculture, but also culinary, viticulture, and the hemp industry. They plan to begin building in October and have it ready in January for students to take these new agriculture classes.

“I think we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to bring new opportunities to this community,” said Sundermann. “And agriculture is a mainstay of this community. It has really kept us going. And what we’re able to do with this particular technology is find some other opportunities to compliment what is already a thriving business in this community.”

This innovative project is not only great for creating a focal point in Western Colorado for people to evolve the way they think about growing, but also the state of Colorado.

“From a state perspective, there’s been a lot of interest on part of the Governor to really become a true ag-tech pillar,” said Berland. “A becon for other people to look at. So having a facility like this and being able to push the learning that we get not only into the local, but potentially the global farming community really shines a spotlight on what’s happening in the state of Colorado.”

The next step in research after the growing phase will be working with light to get rid of pesticides and pests on plants using different kinds of light

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