Green thumb: a look at who runs the GV greenhouse


Courtesy / GVSU

Lea Gaetto, Staff Writer

While many students know of the Grand Valley State University greenhouse, some have never been inside of it nor know what goes into being a horticulturist.

Christina Hipshier has supervised the Barbara Kindschi Greenhouse for the past seven years and said she has developed customary rituals while busy at work with flora in the greenhouse. 

“I do something different every single day,” Hipshier said. “I am not good at sitting at a desk, so if I can get out, meet people or even power wash the floors, I get to have a new experience— that in itself is what I love about the greenhouse.” 

Nina Fernandez, a third year volunteer who joined the team out of her love for plants, agreed with Hipshier’s description of new happenings.

“I only go in every two weeks,” Fernandez said. “So, each time I am there, I see a new addition to the garden. There is always another plant blossoming, so it is amazing to see what has changed in such a short period. Christina has a bunch of orchids, so I love coming to see them bloom.”

Hipshier and Fernadez both said they love interactions with new GVSU visitors.

When speaking with guests, Hipshier informs them about plant history, provides beginner tips for starting a garden and allows them to order plants for her to grow and then purchase.

She said the biology department funds all of the greenery’s development and she does not receive monetary profit from the customer’s request; she instead earns a satisfactory reward from seeing the plant flourish and its new owner happy.

“I typically ask for four weeks’ notice on succulents and two months’ notice for houseplants because they take longer to grow,” Hipshire said. “Once I have their plant ready, it is around $12 to $15.” 

Besides parenting new plants born within the walls of the Greenhouse, Fernandez said Hipshier brings suffering outside plants back to life.

“The biology professors bring her houseplants from their offices all the time to revive them,” Fernandez said. “I swear she rarely kills a plant, and it is amazing.”

Aside from assembling customized orders and revitalizing others’ plants, Hipshier has worked with Campus Life committees, including the Student Senate, Biology Department and Honors College. She encourages other organizations to work with her for future greenhouse events. Hipshier described some of her past experiences with several of GVSU’s clubs, where she produced roughly 50 plants.

“In the past, I have worked with the Student Senate, where I grew gifts for the guest speakers of each meeting,” Hipshier said. “This year, I will be helping the Honors College at an event for incoming freshmen, they will be participating in a ‘get-to-know you’ event where they will decorate pots for pre-grown plants and be able to take them home and decorate their new dorms.” 

Although those events are exclusive to the members of these associations, Hipshier said there is an opportunity for everyone to enjoy the serenity of the greenhouse during Family Weekend.

On Sept. 17 there will be an open house event where students can bring their relatives to view the greenery within the Kindschi Hall of Science. 

Hipshier said the greenhouse doors will be open to all Lakers during finals week both semesters. The times are currently tentative but typically occur during finals week or one week before.

Despite not knowing the finalized date for this decompressing occasion, Hipshier urges and welcomes all students to keep an eye out for this week-long event.

“It is calming to come in there and look at everything and a peaceful environment to clear your minds, which is especially beneficial during the overwhelming week full of finals,” Hipshire said.