Meet Evie, SMU’s Mobile Greenhouse With a Mission

[ GALLERY ] After not being able to obtain permits for a community garden, SMU students decided to create a transient concept to grow healthy foods.

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Students at Southern Methodist University have converted a camping trailer into a mobile sustainable garden. 

The redesigned trailer, named Evie, was introduced last weekend during Earth Day Texas at Fair Park in Dallas. 

After not being able to obtain permits for a community garden, SMU students decided to create a transient concept to grow healthy foods. 

“This is to have a way to grow food and help solve food deserts in Dallas.” 
Sylvia Rivera

“This is a prototype to grow things mobile. The point is to engineer solutions to help people,” said Sylvia Rivera, a business, international studies, and Spanish triple major at SMU and one of eight students working on the project. “This is to have a way to grow food and help solve food deserts in Dallas.”

Corrie Harris, who is the project manager for Evie, drove to Waco to pick up the trailer and transformed it to have the ability to grow plants in extreme weather conditions. 

Community gardens can be difficult to sustain while Evie gives them a little more control over the environment. 

 

“It gets into the 100s [degrees] here, or it hails,” Harris said. “If the hail hits, I’ll just need to fix one or two windows and the plants will be safe.”

Students and researchers at the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity at SMU have been researching community gardens and food deserts for the past two and a half years, and figuring out solutions to solve these problems — especially in Dallas. 

“Evie embodies the kind of innovative solutions the Hunt Institute is aiming to foster — approaches that do not only address the needs faced by the community but also have the potential to simultaneously create entrepreneurship and job opportunities in the same communities,” said Dr. Eva Csaky, director of the Hunt Institute, in a release.

EVIE CAN HELP IN CRISIS RELIEF, SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS 

Evie is designed to be taken anywhere whether its for crisis relief, food distribution, or creating a sustainable business.

“If a neighborhood pitched in to buy this, they could grow their own food,” Rivera said. 

Harris said that Evie is all about learning, and through building off of others’ innovations and trial and research, Evie will keep improving. 

“The phenomenon in food deserts is that all of these nonprofits donate food,” Harris said. “But, after relief is development.”

“We challenge our students to find out if it addresses social issues.” 

Corrie Harris

Evie will be parked and maintained in Fair Park for the next three years at Big Tex Urban Farms, a greenhouse initiative launched last year during the State Fair of Texas. Harris said that the mobile greenhouse will help her students add layers to their research. 

“We need to continue our thinking on how community gardens function,” she said. “The answer is to combine community gardens and greenhouses.”

When Evie was just an idea, students came up with four ways to build her, but the final rendering was chosen for funding purposes. 

“Part of the data we are collecting is, how much can be grown in this small space?” Harris said. “We challenge our students to find out if it addresses social issues.”

Photos by Sarah Bradbury: 

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Evie, a mobile sustainable garden, made by SMU students.

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Plants hang in colored pots inside Evie.

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The inside of Evie, a mobile greenhouse project.

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Plants and tools inside of Evie.

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Plants inside Evie.


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