Grow Domes

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Welcome to Good Dirt Radio reporting on positive solutions taking root.

Its no secret that food costs are soaring… on petroleum prices… and with corporate ag food being trucked an average of 1500 miles, quality is often sacrificed.   As shipping prices rise, concern about cost, nutritional value and freshness has inspired many to grow their own food. It turns out, one antidote to an unsustainable food supply is local growing.

Indoor growing structures  of all kinds extend growing seasons and help provide innovative and beneficial ways to create local food.  Udgar Parsons, a retired dentist from Pagosa Springs, CO, was involved with and inspired by the 50’ diameter geodesic dome greenhouse built in the 80’s by John Denver’s Windstar Foundation near Aspen, Colorado.  With its passive solar heating and cooling, the dome produced quality, fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers all year with no fossil fuel heat during winter. In dozens of states and countries, Parsons provides large and small biome growing kits which have proven to be a rewarding, energy saving and cost effective way to local food.

Parsons: I decided I was going to try to make an affordable version of this structure for regular folk to grow their own food year round.  My first structure, which I called a growing dome, supported three families with fresh greens all winter long.  

It captures the heat of the sun in the day and stores it inside the dome in water, in the soil and then we slow down the heat loss at night by using a lot of insulation.   Most greenhouses will cook your plants in the summer.  The dome actually relies on natural systems of convection, solar powered cooling fans, [fan sound?] a huge water tank that stores cool energy and north wall insulation.  It keeps cool in the summer and warm in the winter where you can grow in the Rocky Mountains year round.  And I think there is a tremendous sense of self-sufficiency and independence by having your own source of food. 

 Locally grown food can offer an alternate currency, one that helps reduce climate-changing emissions, saves energy and money.  Katrina Blair, supplies many locals with food from her grow dome in Falls Creek Valley, Colorado.

Blair:    Basically, it’s a growing food machine that just works by itself!  Its self regulating.  It opens its own windows when it gets too hot. It has a solar fan that helps pull the hot air from the ceiling down into the roots of the plants.  

Blair invited us in for a quick tour. 

Blair:  We have right in front of us this gorgeous fig tree and it grows here year round.    We’ve got a big forest of kale greens, fabulous for salads and steamed greens if you like and it reseeds itself and grows all year round.  And then we have zucchini and squash and pumpkins that are vining up over the whole place, dropping their big beautiful fruits that we harvest even in early spring.  We also have tons of herbs…rosemary and thyme, oregano, marjoram, lemon balm.  Th e bounty is incredible as well as the insects.  We’ve got butterflies coming through and bees pollinating the wild mustards.  And, in the winter, of course, it does produce tons of salad greens.   Probably nine months out of the year we can grow tomatoes in here.  

Jude Logan Terry, a psychotherapist in La Plata County, CO, is another grow dome owner.  She finds subtle values in growing local food.

Logan Terry:  What’s important is that you have a relationship with your food.  Its just a sweet connection with what you’re actually nurturing your body with.   Some of this stuff that I’m growing as well is using food as medicine.  Over here I have my supplement aisle; feverfew, calendula-which is fabulous for digestion and skin, and purslane which is actually a weed but its higher in omega-3 than any other leafy green.  When you use basil, for example, when you make pesto, you’re condensing a wonderful food source into a form that’s not only tasty, but its medicinal.  [pond sound]  I like to come out here in the evening and just listen to the pond and its sort of a sanctuary….    For the first time, I’m in love with my food and if this is a common experience, that’s gotta be good to ingest. 

Whether you grow your own or buy from others, locally produced food helps create sustainablility.  A passive solar growing space attached to your home, can even reduce heating costs.   For more information, please visit our website at gooddirtradio.o-r-g. 

Positive change happens when millions of people learn about better options and make smarter choices. We urge you to get involved in the shift to sustainability in ways that make sense to you. 

I’m Tami Graham and I’m Tom Bartels.  Thanks for joining us on Good Dirt Radio, digging up good news….for a change.

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