Viability of all-season Greenhouses for Interior Alaska Using Geodesic Domes and Vertical Hydroponics

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2023: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Host Institution Award ID: G248-23-W9982
Grant Recipient: The Magic Gardenbus LLC
Region: Western
State: Alaska
Principal Investigator:
Michael Harrington
The Magic Gardenbus LLC


  • Vegetables: greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), tomatoes


  • Crop Production: greenhouses, season extension
  • Production Systems: hydroponics

    Proposal summary:

    Interior Alaskan winters are known to be some of the harshest conditions in the world for cultivating produce: dry, dark, incredibly long, and freezing cold. The summer growing season is only feasible for roughly four months, and artificial methods to extend the growing season provide various levels of success. There are currently no sustainable, renewable, and cost-effective four-season greenhouse designs for Interior Alaska.

    We propose an elegant solution: Geodesic Greenhouses using vertical hydroponics and renewable energy. They will be designed to cultivate produce year-round by utilizing a combination of the greenhouse effect, renewable energy/hydroponics, and supplemental winter heating/lighting.

    Geodomes offer many benefits for lightweight, strong, and low-cost arctic greenhouses. Triangles - the strongest shape known to man - arranged in a hemisphere provide unmatched tensile strength. The spherical shape of the dome facilitates light penetration, while polycarbonate panels refract sunlight toward the center of the structure. Coupled with northside radiant barriers and water-based thermal masses, geodomes effectively regulate their own microclimate with minimal human intervention. Leveraging vertical hydroponics will exponentiate production by maximizing available area for growth with minimal water loss (~95% recycled) when compared to soil.

    Control groups will be outdoor gardens and indoor raised-beds, equal in square-footage to the hydroponic test group. The following data will be gathered for each group weekly: materials/energy consumed, labor/maintenance hours, plant health/growth, nutrient content/quality, effective growth season, and total production/revenue per square-foot. Final data will be cross-referenced and analyzed to identify the optimum cultivation method, and to further refine our process/design.

    Our goal is to verify that 4-season cultivation for Interior Alaska is possible, by using environmentally-friendly technologies at low-cost to the producer. We intend to use our operation to support the local community, by providing a novel method for Alaskans to become self-reliant and economically producing their own food year-round.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Develop, construct, and maintain a 4-season greenhouse system for use in Interior Alaska, utilizing vertical hydroponic techniques for crop cultivation.
    2. Decrease overall energy and material waste by utilizing smart space-saving growing techniques, as well as renewable energy sources.
    3. Provide the State of Alaska with year-round fresh produce grown and cultivated in the local community.
    4. Provide the State of Alaska with a novel, cheap, and effective crop production method for home and business use case purposes.
    5. Promote the adoption of personal and local crop production to decrease reliance on products shipped from the Lower-48, and strengthen the local Economy by adopting this practice.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.