BTC to Expand Greenhouse Operations
Under the leadership of Dr. Molly Hicks, Senior Director of Horticulture and Agricultural Technology, Bidwell and the Drew Mathieson Greenhouse look to future innovation and offerings.
Bidwell Training Center (BTC) is announcing the successful completion of an in-depth feasibility study on a dramatic transformation of its use and production within the Drew Mathieson Greenhouse (DMG). Originally built to house BTC’s Horticulture Technology program, and with a focus on growing flowers for commercial sales, the DMG is a unique facility with commercial-grade production capabilities but an educational focus and priority in its operations.
Now, however, BTC and DMG are looking to expand that work beyond floriculture towards things like food-production and a wider diversity of urban growing. This strategic shift is being driven by BTC’s Senior Director of Horticulture and Agriculture Technology, Dr. Molly Hicks. Bringing a broad background in education reform, environmental science, public policy, and sustainable agriculture, Dr. Hicks has been the catalyst for this robust reimagining of how BTC’s resources are enhanced and applied.
“Horticulture Technology has been a popular and successful training program for BTC for a long time,” says Kevin Jenkins, President and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, the parent company of BTC. “Bringing Dr. Hicks on board has revealed just how many other innovative and transformative opportunities are open to us because we have this commercial-grade, 40,000 square-foot greenhouse. It’s an unparalleled facility in the city of Pittsburgh, and seeing it as a more robust hub of educational opportunity and community engagement is the future of BTC.”
The next phases are already underway, with current production of flowers and herbs being incrementally slowed and shifted to make space for drastic renovations and new construction within the DMG’s facilities. These changes will include new hydroponic systems for food production, new lab space for BTC’s Horticulture Technology students, and new spaces for the public to directly engage with the greenhouse’s offerings and operations.
“The heart of BTC has always been to transform lives with opportunities and family-sustaining careers for our graduates,” says Dr. Kimberly Rassau, BTC’s Executive Director. “Expanding the operations and enhancing the facilities at the greenhouse not only aligns with our goals, but it also really broadens the horizon of possibilities for how we here at BTC can accomplish our mission.”
Dr. Hicks herself looks at her coming to BTC as a fulfillment of her academic and professional career, and the chance to push the DMG into these new areas is what drew her to Pittsburgh in the first place.
“I’m looking ahead at what we can do with a lot of enthusiasm,” says Dr. Hicks. “Whether it’s food production, educational programing for youth and adults alike, or contributing to the well-being of Manchester in particular and Pittsburgh in general–it’s the kind of work that I’ve been dreaming of implementing. BTC has made that possible.”
Dr. Molly Hicks,
Sr. Director of Horticulture and Agriculture Technology