In a cold state like New Hampshire, any break from winter is welcome, which the Macfarlane Greenhouses at the University of New Hampshire blissfully provide. Furthermore, the huge variety of plant life provides for many wonderful photo opportunities. Dress for a warmer climate and be sure you bring enough film!
Before I tell you anything about the the Macfarlane Greenhouses, I should tell you a bit about the University of New Hampshire, my alma mater. If you do not live in New England, then you have probably never heard of the University of New Hampshire. Even if you do live in the area, then it’s likely you associate the letters “UNH” with University of New Haven. (University of New Hampshire was created first though!) And if you are not from the United States, then you have probably never even heard of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire is a small northeastern state, with a tiny coastline and sharing a small part of its border with Canada. The University of New Hampshire, located in Durham, was founded in 1866. Back then, it was called New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts and was located in Hanover (where you’ll find the more famous Dartmouth College). The college was formed thanks to Benjamin Thompson, who left his farm and assets for the foundation of an agricultural school. Therefore, it kind of goes without saying that UNH has always had interest and support for all things agricultural. UNH also prides itself on being one of the most sustainable campuses in the country.
I attended this school for the last few years of my college life and always intended to take part in something such as the Organic Gardening Club, but never found the time. So recently when I heard that the greenhouses were having an open-house for the public, I decided I had to go see it for myself finally. I called up a few friends and we headed there, bright and early in the morning.
The three of us did not really know what to expect and we definitely were not disappointed. We were, though, overdressed, as early spring in New Hampshire can still be quite cold; we had bundled up only to find ourselves sweating in the greenhouses. There were about five long greenhouses, all running parallel to each other and each connected to a main building. Each of them was amazing in their own way. Some were filled with potted flowers and herbs, another resembled a massive indoor vegetable garden, and another was filled with cacti and some really exotic plants.
Some of the greenhouses were filled with plants that were available for sale. The main building was filled with tables exhibiting all sorts of product demonstrations, posters for research projects, and explanations of different gardening techniques. I did not have time to check out much inside (except for the free samples of the most delicious roasted pumpkin seeds, yum), but it all looked really interesting. There were also indoor flower displays, a café, and a hallway filled with artwork to represent different fairy tales. You could tell a lot of preparation went into this event.
Unfortunately, I think they do open houses only once a year. But I am pretty sure that they are open to visitors all year long. If you would like to check it out (and yes, you do), then maybe give a call ahead to be safe. All of the people being there for this open house made taking pictures a bit difficult at some points, so a visit some other time might be preferable. If I knew years ago how wonderful these greenhouses are, then I would have made an effort to visit much more regularly. The work and care that all of the folks over in the Macfarlane Greenhouses put into this place is quite impressive as they carry on agriculture traditions that started long ago.