Fresh veggies in Winter? Cold frame technology research could make it happen

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to grow your own leafy-greens throughout the cold, winter months? Two of Durham College’s (DC) professors are hoping to make that dream a reality.

Greg Moran, a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Techniques (HVAC) professor and Shane Jones, professor, School of Science and Engineering Technology (SET) have been working with students in perfecting the use of cold frame technology to provide businesses and consumers with fresh, local vegetables all year long.

As part of the applied research overseen by DC’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE), the cold frame technology project brings together faculty and students to build and install prototypes and then test them at the Centre for Food (CFF) at the college’s Whitby campus.

“This project is a great opportunity to teach our students the value of innovation, while working toward a solution that could aid local farmers, business and consumers by providing them with fresh, local produce year-round,” said Moran. “Early testing should prove that the concept works, while the next phase will focus on proving the technology is economically viable in certain applications where it can be developed on a larger scale.”

Cold frame technology works by harnessing the energy of the sun and redirecting it to support growth, even on the coldest of days. The cold frame boxes are constructed using cedar wood and special insulation and have triple polycarbonate glass on the top. The boxes are filled with sand and then buried underground. When the sun is shining, heat is collected and directed below the plants, bringing the heat up at night to warm the ambient air around them.

With plans to begin planting in October and lettuce taking about two months to grow to maturity, Moran and Jones will know in January whether the project was a success.