Did you know... geothermal energy is growing flowers?
Newcastle, Utah is home to Milgro Nursery – and they use geothermal energy to power their greenhouses! In fact, their facility is one of the most successful geothermal energy applications for space heating in the United States.
Milgro Nursery first opened in 1980 in Oxnard, California, before opening a second location in Newcastle, Utah in 1991. It is a family-owned business and is one of the largest growers of chrysanthemums and poinsettias, along with various other plants, in the United States. They also grow a large variety of blooming plants, green plants, and succulents. Currently, the greenhouses grow over seven million potted plants per year. Milgro provides its plants to Walmart, Kroger, Trader Joe’s, and other major retailers.
The Newcastle greenhouses are located in a desert in southwestern Utah, along the southeast edge of the Escalante Valley. The desert has an elevation of around 5,300 ft (~1615 m), making it a prime location for geothermal heating. The combination of the geothermal system present and the relatively harsh outdoor weather conditions allows Milgro to manufacture almost any growing environment. High sunlight, cool temperatures, and geothermal energy make it cheaper to heat up the greenhouses than it is to use air conditioning to cool them down.
Though Milgro is located in a semi-arid desert, they are able to create humidity within the greenhouses. Had the greenhouses been located in a humid environment, it would be almost impossible to remove that humidity. The desert’s ample amount of sunlight also allows Milgro a more cost-effective control of crop lighting, given it is cheaper and easier to block light rather than create it. The location’s climate and Milgro’s use of geothermal energy assists in eliminating the use of fossil fuels, protecting the quality of the air, and conserving water.
During the first wave of the pandemic, millions of orders for Milgro plants were canceled, leaving with a massive amount of inventory – flowers that would only stay alive for a limited amount of time. To keep the flowers from going to waste, Milgro gave some to the residents of local nursing homes, hospital staff, and teachers – all for free! A personal friend of Milgro owner Cherilyn Smith, Jim Castimore, even drove a truck full of Milgro flowers to New York City and New Jersey.
Whatever the occasion, Milgro will have the geothermally-grown plants for you!
Milgro flowers at Trader Joe's.