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DRA Funds Project Greenhouse 2021

[April 20, 2021] With our largest greenhouse in desperate need of an upgrade, we turned to the DRA (Dubuque Racing Association) and requested funding for the needed improvements. We so appreciate the Dubuque Racing Association granting us the funds to make this project possible! With those funds, we were able to:

  • Replace the old, inflatable baffle walls with polycarbonate material.
  • Install exhaust fans and louvers that run on a thermostat to regulate the temperature.
  • Hang circulation fans.
  • Rewire the greenhouse.
  • Install a new door.

As of April 2021, Project Greenhouse is almost complete, and the Green Team ladies have already moved in!

Here’s a recap:

Greenhouse History

About twenty-five years ago, Dubuque Arboretum volunteers erected a 31’x48’ greenhouse. More recently, the roof blew off which was then replaced. In addition, the rest of the greenhouse was using an old, outdated system to open and shut the side walls.

Purpose/Goal of the Project

Since the gridwork of the greenhouse was in excellent condition, the overall goal was to put energy-efficient siding and proper ventilation into the side walls (with some minor add-ons as well).

Greenhouse Needs

Our greenhouse volunteers had struggled to keep the temperature regulated in the greenhouse. The blowers that kept the side walls inflated had needed to be replaced multiple times. Also, the blow-up side curtains did not open and close properly and had multiple tears that had been taped together. [Much of our warm air had been seeping through the top and sides of the current inflatable walls.]

  • We needed to replace those side walls with double-walled, polycarbonate siding with louvers on one side and exhaust fans on the other.
  • We needed four circulation fans (designed for a greenhouse) to keep the air moving and increase energy efficiency.
  • We needed to upgrade the wiring in the greenhouse. (Over the years, it had been cobbled together.)
  • We needed a new entry door. Our entry door to the greenhouse was broken and needed to be replaced.
  • We needed all these components to be tied into a thermostat that would automatically adjust the mechanisms according to the outside temperature.


Altogether, the greenhouse renovation project made the whole building energy-efficient and useable for another 25 years.

Essential Visual Need

Since the annuals are the most visible and colorful part of the park for everyone to enjoy, the improvements were essential. The Dubuque Arboretum’s annuals are grown in our greenhouse during the winter from seed and then transferred up in size a couple of times before being put in the ground for the growing season.

Community Need

Never has there been a greater need for a beautiful and safe, outdoor space for people to enjoy and recreate. [Recently there had been more than triple the visitors to the Dubuque Arboretum.] With the Arboretum a free public garden, open 365 days a year, it’s a beautiful venue to host weddings, walk, bicycle, play in the children’s playground, relax in picnic areas, on benches, under trees for shade, enjoy our tranquil water features, stroll on wooded hiking trails, appreciate all of the colorful vistas of flowers that welcome each resident and visitor. And so much more! It has become the perfect place for friends and family to meet safely.

We’re so thankful to the DRA for its generosity in funding our Greenhouse Project, which will benefit so many in our community!

Sandi Helgerson, Executive Director 
Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

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