Passive Solar Greenhouse Construction and Growing Trial
The project team plans to build a passive solar greenhouse system that is affordable, durable and efficient using local resources. Using the greenhouse, it hopes to show that people in New Mexico and elsewhere at high elevations and harsh climates can grow herbs and vegetables during the winter.
In the northern Taos County climate at 7,800 feet elevation, growing vegetables or herbs during the often windy and usually cold winters is impossible. Project coordinator Cathy Hope wants to demonstrate the feasibility of building a passive solar greenhouse – taking advantage of ample winter sunlight – with these attributes:
• more affordable than mail-order kits
• more permanent and durable than polyurethane hoop houses,
• uses local materials
• enables year-round production of vegetables (and herbs) with no external heat or electricity (except a solar fan)
• uses all the rainwater collected on the roof
After the greenhouse is built, she will prepare two growing beds in three different ways, planting 46 varieties of 14 vegetables in two growing cycles.
As of August 1999, the greenhouse building was 95% completed, the growing beds had been prepared according to the research protocols and all of the summer crop vegetables had been planted or transplanted.
This concept, if successful, will provide a working model for others at high altitudes with harsh winters but ample sunlight to grow vegetables and herbs during the winter months.
FARMER ADOPTION AND DIRECT IMPACT
It’s still too early to report adoption by others.
FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS OR NEW HYPOTHESES
There are none to report so far.
DISSEMINATION OF FINDINGS
Cathy Hope, project coordinator, discussed her plans during a radio station-sponsored Solar Festival and participated on a radio show during which participants discussed sustainable building and growing practices. She held an open house on the site July 31, 1999, and presented a workshop and slide show on solar building in Michigan.
In addition, Hope says that donations of time, money and expertise have gone well with more than $3,500 raised and 100 hours donated.