Earth Day is always an exciting celebration around the country where people come together and focus on the planet we live on. This year, Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, and Southern Methodist University was pleased to use this day to introduce the world to Evie, the mobile greenhouse at Fair Park in Dallas.
Evie is the work of SMU’s Hunt Institute, with SMU students looking at the very real issue of food deserts and the effect they have on communities. The student-led project was a collaborative effect, and housed in the SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering where the students were able to research innovative and sustainable solutions in an effort to understand and find better answers for solving local and global poverty.
Evie’s introduction at the Earth Day festivities saw a unique opportunity for children to explore the greenhouse, with children that participated in the event taking home their own plant that they can nurture and grow. While the children were probably unaware of the potential impact of Evie, the greenhouse is a potential answer to the problem of food deserts.
The students at SMU were challenged to develop and then build a low-cost, entirely energy independent, environmentally friendly, and economically viable space to grow healthy foods. Creating a mobile greenhouse not only meets each of these needs, but it also takes into account that people who live in food deserts often do not own their homes, and do not have the space to create gardens. Evie allows the family or individual to take their greenhouse with them, no matter where they go.
In order to build Evie the students converted a Shasta camping trailer, rebuilding the interior in such a way that it resembles a greenhouse that would be found on a farm or in a backyard. It is innovative solutions such as Evie that are needed to help address the problem of food insecurity for those living in food deserts where high-quality, healthy foods, if available at all, are sparse and challenging to find.
Even better, Evie is a truly collaborative effort, helping the students across many disciplines, engineering, communications, international studies, business, art, and advertising, come together to use their unique knowledge to solve real world problems.