Meet ‘Evie’ the mobile greenhouse

Students at SMU’s Hunt Institute have transformed an old camping trailer into a fully-functioning mobile greenhouse.

DALLAS (SMU) – Students at SMU’s Hunt Institute have transformed an old camping trailer into an experimental mobile greenhouse that was introduced at Earth Day TX 2017 in Fair Park in Dallas.

Nicknamed “Evie,” the converted Shasta camping trailer has been redesigned to grow food, allowing students to research the problem of food deserts – the lack of fresh produce and healthier food options, usually affecting lower-income communities.

Here’s how Evie came to be: SMU students studying the problems associated with food deserts were challenged to build a low-cost, energy independent, environmentally friendly and economically viable space to grow healthy food. During the planning and design phases, students agreed on a mobile concept, recognizing that families who live in food deserts often rent their homes and lack access to a conventional garden.  The mobile design also will help with moving Evie from location to location to enhance the project’s food distribution and educational mission.

The student-led project is an evolution of the Hunt Institute’s Greenhouse for Good research project that began in 2016. Housed in the SMU Lyle School of Engineering, the Hunt Institute is uniquely charged with researching and implementing innovative and sustainable solutions to local and global poverty. The Hunt Institute’s Sustainable Food Systems Program is focused on food-related issues and on fostering related innovations in close cooperation with community partners and a multidisciplinary group of students, faculty and practitioner collaborators. 

“Food insecurity is a crippling experience that families face every day,” said Dr. Eva Csaky, Director of the Hunt Institute. “Even in American cities, some communities have limited or no access to healthy food options, which can lead to health and social consequences down the line. 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.

“Evie also embodies the Institute’s interdisciplinary approach to pressing humanitarian problems, a practice that we hope students will carry with them far beyond their college years,” Csakey said, noting that SMU students in engineering, communication studies, international studies, business, art and advertising programs have worked on the Evie project.

The Hunt Institute partnered with the State Fair of Texas' Big Tex Urban Farms to exhibit and provide a home base for Evie after Earth Day Texas at Fair Park, side-by-side with raised beds built by the State Fair, which donates its produce to various non-profit groups

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About the Hunt Institute

The mission of the Hunter & Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity is to develop and scale sustainable and affordable technologies and solutions addressing the challenges of the global poor; improve the standard of living of the world’s impoverished communities; foster market-based mechanisms that create sustainable livelihood opportunities that respect the dignity of individuals and communities; serve as a convening platform for business, academic, NGOs and governmental organizations, as well as a national and international hub for relevant programs. The Hunt Institute is the home of the James Pratt Collection, the Hunt Institutes Salon, the Hunt Institute Elders, and HUNTALKS. More information at Hunt Institute.