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Life in the Greenhouse: My First Day


“Wear layers and bring a refillable water bottle.” That’s what I was told for my first day working in the greenhouse at Metropolitan Farms. So I wore a hoodie, t-shirt with a tank top underneath, and packed my trusty black metal water bottle that I’d picked up from some swag bag in years past. I hopped on mass transit and headed west for my first day.


Hi, I’m Phoenix the newest Intern to join the Metro-Farms team. I dream of having my own aquaponics farm some day, however, I know I have a lot to learn since, well, I’ve been working in marketing and graphic design for the past 16 years. This part of the blog will be written by yours truly about what it’s like working in an aquaponics system and what I’ve learned in the past week.


So did I use all three of those layers I put on for my first day? Yep. Ashley, our greenhouse manager, put me to work immediately packing up watercress in the walk in cooler — hoodie with hood up over ears. I packed up 5oz bags and 1 oz boxes of watercress that would be sold later that week at the at Logan Square and Jefferson Park farmer’s markets. I also filled orders for the butcher shop, Carnivore, where our fish are processed and also sold. Into crates the bags and boxes went, each labeled for its final destination.


Next, to the greenhouse where the hoodie came off quickly and my T-shirt was perfect while Ashley instructed me on how to do transfers- moving seedlings from the nursery to the Nutrient Film Technique system (NFTs for short), then moving the plants from the NFTs to the rafts. Up, over, around, and back. I was assigned quite a number of sets and went to work. And shortly thereafter, the sun came out. It is amazing how quickly the heat builds in that green house! My t-shirt came off and I wore my tank top for the rest of the day. Oh, and that water bottle I brought- the black metal one. Yeah, a black metal water bottle is a bad idea when you’re working in the sun. Drinking hot water while being hot yourself doesn’t quite quench your thirst.


This first day I fell asleep on the bus, bought Chinese takeout for dinner, and went to bed at 9pm. I was so exhausted. Happily exhausted. This first day was the first time in way too long that I felt satisfied with a good hard day’s work. And I was looking forward to the next day with all my heart.