What do you get when you combine a group of earnest gardeners, an irascible old boat-builder, and an irrepressibly idealistic college kid? One of the most unique and exceptional greenhouses on planet Earth.
Combining elements of geothermal, solar collection, thermal banking, groundwater retention, and underground heat exchange, this greenhouse uses the whole lexicon of sustainability in its design and operation.
First conceived by Mike Mitchell, veteran home designer and boat-builder, the primary greenhouse is built against a Victorian-era sandstone retaining wall - affectionately referred to as the "Great Wall", facing due south. Mike's design and carpentry expertise -- along with Ken Peralta's fundraising work -- laid the groundwork for Danny Swan, resident urban farmer and idealist, to put his back into its construction. With the help of the ox-like strength of Doug Flight and the unflagging support of Kate Marshall, the team rebuilt much of the sandstone Great Wall throughout the winter of 2014, and tackled building construction during the record-breaking bitter cold February of 2015. Joined in the late stages by talented David Wallace (yes folks, he's a fine woodworker and a rock'n'roll singer), the band of four worked long into the evenings, fueled by coffee and -grudgingly- Danny's ubiquitous kale smoothies.
The finished product consists of two separate greenhouses. The primary, or "lower" greenhouse, is an eco-machine, generating heat for itself and the secondary greenhouse, an unheated high-tunnel greenhouse, used to grow early tomatoes and cold hardy crops (like lettuce and spinach).