GVC TEC AgTech instructor Derek Baschuk in the school's new 1,000 sq. ft. greenhouse. Photo by Ashleigh Viveiros/Winkler Times.
By Ashleigh Viveiros
After years of planning and waiting, the GVC TEC agriculture technology program finally has its greenhouse.
Work on the 1,000 sq. ft. addition to the GVC TEC building on Manitoba Road began in January, and wrapped up this month.
Come next fall, the research-style greenhouse - which connects to the soils lab on the south side of the main building - will house a variety of student agriculture projects, said program instructor Derek Baschuk.
"We'll have different crops, from the early growth stages right up to maturity, - definitely a lot of long-term projects," he said, noting the greenhouse has been on the program's wish list since it started several years ago. "We've been waiting for this for four years, basically."
In the meantime, agriculture students have used hotboxes and other equipment to learn about the life cycle of plants, fertilizer use, different soils, and other related topics, Baschuk said.
"We've used a lot of makeshift things in the past, but there's only so much you can do on a small scale," he said. "This allows us to do much more."
The year-round greenhouse joins the AgTech program's soils and biotechnology science labs in giving students the chance for practical experience in the field, Baschuk said.
"It's not just a greenhouse - this is a third classroom for the program," he said.
In the 2008/09 school year, over a dozen Grade 10-12 students took full-time courses in the program, while another 100 Grade 9 students took part in an introductory course, Baschuk said.
"We've had a good student response," he said, noting the vast majority of students graduating from the program have chosen to go on to study agriculture at the post-secondary level.
In fact, the University of Manitoba faculty of agricultural and food sciences "sees us as a feeder program for their programs," Baschuk said.
Baschuk is quick to point out that AgTech students are learning about the whole range of potential agricultural careers in today's world - not just from the standpoint of the farmer.
"Agriculture is not just farming ... only one out of every 10 jobs in agriculture is from the producer standpoint," he said, noting the field also encompasses careers in research, technology, agribusiness, and agronomics, to name a few. "We basically touch on the entire scope of agriculture."
Next up for the GVC TEC campus - which also houses the division's manufacturing engineering and diesel technology programs - is a renovation of the front section of the building.
The summertime renovations will create additional classrooms and administrative space.