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Greenhouse heated by a boiler

Cul2vating a Community


In the fall of 2019, Boiler Supply was proud to make a boiler donation to Cul2vate, a non-profit organization in Nashville, Tenn. The wood-fired hydronic boiler from Central Boiler supports the greenhouses to grow fresh produce to locally feed those who suffer from hunger.  On top of that, they offer a fresh start to individuals by hiring them as part-time workers. The hands-on experience provides job readiness and life skills training in a spiritual environment. 

Winter Temperatures Affect Production 

In the winter months, Cul2vate had to put growing tomatoes on hold.  If the temperature in the greenhouses dropped below a particular temperature, the plants would die. Joey Lankford, the founder of Cul2vate, had visited a similar greenhouse operation and observed the use of a wood fired boiler.  Being able to control the temperature in the greenhouses would enable them to avoid any interruptions in their production. Lankford had known Eddie Lunn III, president of Boiler Supply for many years and described his observations.  Together they began to brainstorm how they could replicate a similar system for Cul2vate. 

The SolutionWood Fired Boiler

Lankford and Lunn landed a decision on a wood fired boiler for two main reasons.  First, Cul2vate has a source for as much wood that is needed to fuel the boiler.  Second, wood-fired boilers require manual maintenance to keep the boiler clean. Because Cul2vate has no shortage of help and volunteers, they felt this was the best system that made the most sense. 

How the Boiler Works 

The temperature in the greenhouses is regulated by circulating hot water two different ways. Pex piping is buried in the ground under the tomato plants keeping the ground at 60°F. The second is through a simple hot water-to-air heat exchanger to keep the ambient temp around 60°.  The system is sized to be able to provide these temps all the way down to 0°F.

From potatoes to tomatoes and cucumbers, the hydronic boiler enables Cul2vate to continue to grow produce throughout the winter by providing heat for the greenhouses. Lankford explains “We are so excited to be able to grow our food throughout the winter months because of the boiler Boiler Supply installed for us.  In years past we would have to stop growing in our tunnels because of the cold temps.  The team at Boiler Supply did a great job learning about our problem, designing/engineering a solution and then installing a solution to our problem.  Now our efforts to feed the hungry can go on all year long.”  

Giving Back 

In the same vein, Lunn described what this collaboration and donation meant to him and his organization. Lunn explained, “I love the idea of working alongside people who want to change the trajectory of their life to a trajectory of loving God, loving Others and helping themselves.  What I love about Cul2vate is the focus on purpose.  They focus on our purpose of loving God and loving others as the ultimate purpose.  Additionally, they focus on working alongside those that have lost their vocational purpose and work to uncover that lost purpose or find a new vocational purpose.  The simple Hand up not hand out cliche but really living it out.  And we got to help accomplish this using our unique skill set in understanding boiler systems.”

Learn more about Boiler Supply and Cul2vate