USAFE's only greenhouse saves 52nd FW money

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- -- Why buy flowers if you can grow and harvest them yourself? Instead of purchasing the thousands of flowers displayed all around Spangdahlem Air Base and the Bitburg Annex, the gardeners from the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron built a greenhouse to grow the base's plants themselves.

By growing these flowers the 52nd CES saves the Air Force approximately 50,000 Euro annually, which is more than $70,000.

"Every flower on base is grown at the greenhouse," said Henry Krones, 52nd CES gardening supervisor.

In fact, the greenhouse plants more than 35,000 plants a year. Each year the gardeners buy approximately 40,000 seeds that are used throughout each season to grow the flowers.

With more than 45 species of flowers, the greenhouse's maintainers must work throughout the year to sustain plant life.

"Because each species of flower is different, we can't just use one sprinkler system for the entire greenhouse so we water them by hand," Mr. Krones said. "We also have sun shades to protect certain flowers from the sun, sun roofs that allow air to come into the facility when it's too hot and even a heating system that allows us to grow flowers [during] the winter."

Located at the Bitburg Annex, the greenhouse was built in 1996 for its current purpose. The 52nd CES' greenhouse is currently the only greenhouse in USAFE.

"I think Spangdahlem Air Base is the most beautiful base in USAFE, having been here before," said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Lovett, 52nd CES operations flight superintendent. "Seeing the beautiful flowers [gives] that warm welcoming feeling that someone is taking quality care of the base. We accomplish this because we have the flexibility of having a greenhouse where we grow our own plants."

According to Sergeant Lovett, one of the benefits of having a greenhouse is eases the process of obtaining flowers as opposed to purchasing them from vendors or local stores. Another benefit is that on-base housing occupants can go to the greenhouse to pick out flowers and plant them in front of their homes.

"This beautifies the area, and it's just a good idea all the way around," said Sergeant Lovett.