Tenco Hydroponic Greenhouse dedication scheduled Oct. 13
OTTUMWA — Tenco extends an invitation to the public to a dedication and ribbon cutting of the newly completed Tenco Hydroponic Greenhouse in Wapello County on Oct. 13.
A program recognizing major donors will begin the proceedings at 2 p.m., with a ribbon-cutting and tours of the facility to follow until 4 p.m. Light refreshments using produce grown in the greenhouse will be served.
The greenhouse is at 14880 Highway 149, north of the Highway 63 interchange.
The four-bay greenhouse has the capacity to raise 1,440 tomato plants in two bays, and 9,306 plant positions in the remaining two lettuce bays, with additional space for 6,400 nursery positions. The hydroponic greenhouse will provide a minimum of 80 paid vocational training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities rotating in groups of 10 throughout the year and 1.5 training/supervisory positions at Tenco. Employment opportunities include picking, sorting, packaging, and marketing vegetables. In addition, the operation will generate earned income for Tenco, which enhances its ability to serve clients.
All vegetables in hydroponic greenhouses are grown without the use of soil. They are fed purified water with nutrients. Each tomato plant can produce up to 60 pounds of product annually. Hydroponic tomatoes have great flavor as they are only picked after they’ve reached their final stage of ripening, providing for higher sugar content and more intense flavor.
Tomatoes are picked by the clients of Tenco and packaged for sale locally and regionally in a variety of retail situations.
Adjacent to the greenhouse is a 64-by-40-foot multipurpose building. The building provides a commons area for grading, washing, packaging, and loading produce for delivery, room to house a cooler, a wide hallway with lockers for workers, a conference room for presentations to groups, and restrooms.
Two 8-foot-wide corridors provide the only access to the greenhouse. The corridors allow for cleaning of shoes and apparel for workers and guests to assist in keeping the greenhouse sterile.
Among the major donors Tenco board president Leisa Walker will recognize are Sheryl North and her late husband David, Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation, Wapello County Foundation, South Central Behavioral Health Region, John Deere Foundation, Tenco Foundation, USDA Rural Development, Norris Asphalt Company LLC, and Wendler Construction, as well as benefactors Maurice and Helen Sinclair, Chad and Christina VanNess, Robert Perkins, and Walker’s own family, all of whom made major gifts to the facility.