Disney’s Epcot Greenhouses are Amazing! Part I : The Land

 

The Land tour at Epcot! © Britt Conley

The Land tour at Epcot! © Britt Conley

Here at the Sustainable Agriculture and Research Center at Walt Disney World they grow the most amazing things!  Fruits and Vegetables are grown in the air, in the sand, and moving around on conveyor belts 24/7.  They grow vertically, in spirals and in cool containers. They are even grown above pipes.  You name it, it’s growing here.

The Land ride is more than just boating it.  It's about what we can do with new innovations in gardening.  © Britt Conley

The Land ride is more than just boating it. It's about what we can do with new innovations in gardening. © Britt Conley

The Land tour is a ride through some of the most spectacular things happening at the Sustainable Agriculture and Research Center at Walt Disney World.   In addition to working with Hydroponics and Aeroponics, they have also partnered with both the U.S. Deptartment of Agrigulture and NASA on various projects.  One project involves developing ways to grow gardens in Space for long journeys. You can see it all on The Land.

Nearly anything it seems can be grown vertically here! © Britt Conley

Nearly anything it seems can be grown vertically here! © Britt Conley

When I first thought about getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the fascinating vegetable gardens at Epcot, The Photo Garden Bee Tour of ’09 was born.  Gardening is fun and relaxing for those who love it but for the rest it can be just as cool! Just try some of the quirky techniques they are sprouting here at Walt Disney World.  Now before you go nodding off, take a look at this tomato tree below.  That’s right it’s a tree!

This tomato plant is only 6 months old! © Britt Conley

This tomato plant is only 6 months old! © Britt Conley

These tomato trees were originally engineered by Chinese scientists.  Disney’s horticulturalist brought the technology to Epcot and has expanded upon it.  This particular tree (Lycopersicon esculentum) was seeded just six months ago on June 6th, 2009.  Look at it’s size now!  The greenhouse’s biggest SINGLE tomato plant yielded a total of 32,000 tomatoes by the time it reached 16 months!  They even won a Guinness World Record for the most tomatoes harvested from a single plant in a single year.

Tomato Plants hung vertically yield great numbers in their harvest © Britt Conley

Tomato Plants hung vertically yield great numbers in their harvest © Britt Conley

Imagine what technology like this could mean for crops world wide!

Beneficial Insects help keep unwanted insects out! © Britt Conley

Beneficial Insects help keep unwanted insects out! © Britt Conley

Another thing they are doing here at Epcot, is using beneficial insects to help root out any bad bugs.   They simply hang these little pockets of them on the plants.  They crawl out and do what they do best: be beneficial bugs!  Frey informs us that they use, “a variety of beneficial insects including parasitoid wasps, beneficial mites, lacewings, and even a few lady bugs.”

Another fun crop being looked into by this Epcot science center?  Peppers. These peppers are also being trained to grow vertically.  Using ropes to support the weight of the pepper yields allows for more space and thus more bountiful peppers.

Dwarf Peppers © Britt Conley

Dwarf Peppers © Britt Conley

Here they have more than just vertical peppers.  They have HOT peppers. Oh, and I don’t mean just any old hot peppers.  They are growing the worlds hottest!  But the one that will knock the socks off of hot pepper afficiantos will be the Bhut Jolokia!  The hottest pepper in the world!  Let’s just put this in perspective.

The Bhut Jalokia are the red elongated peppers, the Habanero are the rounder orange ones. © Britt Conley

The Bhut Jalokia are the red elongated peppers, the Habanero are the rounder orange ones. © Britt Conley

According to the Scoville Scale:

The Jalapeno pepper meausres 2,500-8,000.  Now that’s too hot for me.

The Chipolte pepper meausres 5,000-8,000.

The Super Chile pepper meausres 40,000 ~ 50,000

The Habanero pepper meausres 100,000-325,000.

The Bhut Jolokia is over ONE MILLION units of hot, hot, unbearably hot insanity.

They also are growing huge plants…

9 Pound Lemon © Britt Conley

9 Pound Lemon © Britt Conley

We came across this 9 Lb Lemon.  Tastes the same but makes about a gallon of lemonade!

Winter Mellons © Britt Conley

Winter Mellons © Britt Conley

Growing fruits and vegetables vertically can be done with even the heaviest harvest.  These Winter Melons were seeded back in May and are so large that each one has to be hung with extra strong ropes from the trellis system.

Pumpkins © Britt Conley

Pumpkins © Britt Conley

Since they are growing everything you can think of in the air, why not pumpkins!  These Cinderella pumpkins are not only grown in the air, some are earning their Micky ears!

They can even grow Mickey Mouse Ears © Britt Conley

They can even grow Mickey Mouse Ears © Britt Conley

This is just a small sampling of all the amazing activity sprouting here in the greenhouses of Epcot’s The Land.  Tomorrow we’re going to get up close and personal with horticulturist Les Frey to see just what’s happening in this and the other greenhouse environments!  There is so much more!  Some of these growing techniques can be done in your own kitchen!

For some reason… I’m now having a hankering for pumpkin pie with whipped cream and a hot cup of tea.

‘Til tomorrow…

Britt : )

Related posts:

  1. Growing for the future utilizes innovative techniques here at Epcot’s Greenhouses! Part II: The Land
  2. Here at Epcot they are using various hydroponics systems to help change the world: Part III : The Land
  3. Disney’s Epcot Greenhouses has one of the coolest plants this Bee has ever seen!
  4. The Tropical Greenhouse here at Epcot’s The Land Pavillion is a great learning garden!: Part IV: The Land
  5. The Photo Garden Bee Tour visits Walt Disney World!

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6 Comments

 
  1. marc schwartz
    2011-03-27
    13:10:34

    i too found it very interesting when my family and i visited in january. i was amazed by the different ways they were growing the fruits and veggies.

    is the tomato tree available to the public yet?

     
  2. Britt
    2011-03-28
    23:56:19

    I don't think it's available yet. I really enjoyed the back stage tour where visitors can get up close and personal with the plants and growing systems. It's pretty cool.

     
  3. Nicole Azling
    2012-10-01
    13:28:54

    do you know when they started this? i neeed to find out i live in california and i went there yesterday but i need it for a report i am doing in school

     
  4. Britt
    2012-10-02
    05:25:23

    Hello Nicole,

    You can contact The Land exhibit at epcot directly. Just google the information and they can let you know anything you need :)

    Britt

     
  5. David Ferreira
    2013-02-23
    09:03:29

    I absolutely fell in love with the work you are doing in Disney!!
    Congratulations!!!

     
  6. [...] Disney’s Epcot Greenhouse Tomato Tree, Lycopersicon esculentum, originally engineered by Chinese scientists, yielded a total of 32,000 tomatoes by the time it reached 16 months! They won a Guinness World Record for the most tomatoes harvested from a single plant in a single year. Hope they taste as good as they look! Buy seeds, plant! [...]

     
 

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