Congratulations to Cate Graber on winning the Dome of the Month contest for May. This fun pair of photos of her 26′ Growing Dome greenhouse shows how quickly the weather can change in the Rocky Mountains. Her peach tree had just decided to start blooming above 6,400 feet. Then Mother Nature had a different plan. Sunny and dry one day and blizzard and cold the next… literally. All her plants tucked safely inside the greenhouse kept growing blissfully along.
It’s Earth Day, and this is being celebrated in many places around the globe (see http://www.earthday.org ). In our own small town, the people of vision were out on a cold day in their booths giving away small trees. There were many examples of innovation and many contributions to the awareness that we all need to grow. My husband came home with heirloom seeds from someone’s garden. He was full of excitement about people building their vision for a new energy economy. I am happy to know that our children in Australia were celebrating too.
Ironically, the time is blessed and challenged all together for me by our recent inspiration from a conference for Conscious Capitalism just three weeks ago and the surprising collective challenge of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Watching my own and other’s reactions, I am thrown into thinking about how being more conscious includes Emotional Intelligence. The stimulation of both events leads to a similar commitment. How do we respond from a mature place when the world surprises us?
I read many important messages from friends on Facebook after the tragedy in Boston. I wanted to share one message from Richard Moss. Rather than assigning the blame to what we call terrorists, we can know that… “It is the behavior of those who do not know how to invent themselves in a healthy way in the face of their own pain. They do not know how to stop being the victims of their pasts. They do not know how to grow themselves through a conscious engagement with their own beliefs and feelings. At this time when it is so easy to spin in thoughts that only create unhappiness in us, I call upon us to consecrate ourselves all the more to feel pure grief and compassion, but not let ourselves for one second become the victims of thoughts that poison our bodies and spirits. Don’t let the act of the weak-minded make you weak-minded. They want us to bow before the altar of fear, but fear is not worthy of us. Only the awareness that sets us free of our own punishing thoughts and teaches us how to meet fear in a way that releases us to greater love and faith is worthy of us.”
If we “keep a higher mind” when we are challenged, just like the heroism and courage that occurred in Boston in response to the tragedy did, we can to grow collectively. The courage of ordinary citizens on the scene was remarkable. I have to say, these are the kinds of events and times that call out the best in us.
The finished 42′ Growing Dome recently erected at AspenPointe in Colorado Springs.
Our good fortune at Growing Spaces is that we so often are a part of wonderful projects, with wonderful people who are doing such creative things in the world. One of our most recent clients is AspenPointe, in Colorado Springs. We met their president, Jonathan Liebert, at the Conference for Conscious Capitalism in San Francisco…..just standing on the curb, waiting for the shuttle. Imagine our surprise, while celebrating the folks we get to work with, when he revealed that one of our Growing Domes was going up literally “as we speak” at his facility. Their mission of “Empowering clients. Enriching Lives. Embracing Purpose” is so congruent with our own, that it was an instant celebration to get to know one another in person.
“One of the largest nonprofits in Colorado Springs, AspenPointe traces its roots back to 1875 when it was called the Springs Relief Society. That organization, which delivered coal, lumber and clothing to the needy, was the genesis of what today has 12 organizations that serve more than 30,000 individuals and families each year through services in mental health, substance abuse, employment & career development, education, housing, jail diversion/reintegration, telephonic wellness and provider network services.”
It is heartening to me that so many individuals and organizations are rising in a sort of Food Revolution to respond to the need for balance on our planet which lends to healthy lives. So many resources are offered online. One resource is a summit offered by famed father and son team, John and Ocean Robbins, who wrote the book “Diet for a New Planet.” I was surprised to see that their webinar is being promoted by the Beatles’ Paul McCartney in his statement, “The planet is under pressure and our choices have never been more important.” The Food Revolution Summit is an informative and empowering platform which highlights ways to set a new pattern for the future of the planet. See http://www.foodrevolution.org/empowerment#.UXfd8sol-s0 for their free webinar. Little did we know that our food choices help the health of the planet as much as our bodies!
4-25-13 Thursday: I love round tanks, especially when it comes to leveling. Today we were busy finishing the tank. Don’t you love Janet’s pleats in the tank liner? And, yes, for a charge she will come redo your tank! Other tasks included finishing the fans, final odds and ends at the door, and leftover parts!
4-27-13: Thursday and Friday passed and we were left the weekend for taping the seams of the greenhouse. Just Jan and I and one lone extension ladder! Don’t attempt this at home. You need two extension ladders with outriggers to do a Growing Dome this size!! So as not to be banned from taping again, we didn’t take any pictures and have changed our names for security reasons, HA! HA! We were so fortunate to have perfect weather for taping, mildy warm and no wind, and then Sunday night it started to rain and rain. That put us off until Tuesday afternoon, don’t you just love it, when we could work a little on the project. We had enough time remaining to explain to the totally competent interns and Shumei staff how to assemble the few parts of the Growing Dome that were left for completion. And then we were off, back to Colorado, back to our forest home where; if you didn’t know where we live, you wouldn’t know where we live. Until Next Time, Richard
We thought we might be nearing a close with the construction of the 33′ Growing Dome at the Shumei Garden at the Rodale Institute, but this story sure has had it’s twists and turns! It turns out that Richard is headed back east to work on some finishing touches and to help with consulting on the garden bed layout and design. Obviously, we love this project…. and hopefully you’ll love this next installment from Richard:
Here goes, round 4….. Heeee’sss Baaaacckk!! Well almost! However, before I start my play by play, indulge me for a moment. Quite a few years ago a great saying was popularized, ” Practice Random Acts of Kindness “. For me, kindness is the balance to tragedy. Kindness to oneself, others and life! Remember, it’s not what we gather but what we scatter that counts.
On to great adventure… Did they miss me? Well since I do the cooking at home I’m sure Janet missed at least that! Right?
From Pagosa Springs, CO on 4-22-13: I’m finishing off my vent making at the Growing Spaces manufacturing facility in SW Colorado so I can zoom back to PA and help complete the Growing Dome. Jan and I missed each other too much, and she needed someone to tape the very top of the Growing Dome and the vents. Did I mention how nice they look?? Kenji Ban and Chisako with Shumei have been taking the pictures you see and Jan has added some shots also in between running the show. Thanks to all the interns and volunteers, even with rainy days they have made great progress. I arrive in beautiful downtown Newark, NJ the afternoon of the 24th and it will…be continued.
As the 33′ Growing Dome at the Shumei Natural Agriculture Garden at the Rodale Institute continues to take shape we see how many wonderful volunteers are pitching in to make this project happen. Richard Miller, Growing Spaces installation supervisor, has been kind enough to send us updates as they go.
4-9-13 Tues. I checked hubs again and rechecked for tightness. Then it was time to install the vents. Oh, yes thank you, if I do say so myself they look great (this, coming from the vent maker)! With that out of the way we could get to the exciting part of covering the Growing Dome with the polycarbonate glazing panels. We knew it would be tough because of the gravel floor in varying degrees of thickness, even though we leveled it to our best ability. Plywood underneath ladders is awkward! I thought it went well considering the challenges of this particular build and the experience level of our crew. It must have been because had so much great enthusiasm! The pictures tell the story.
4-10-13 Wed. Our last day is supposed to be today, no really?!! If it had been just the Growing Dome, we would have been there, but with the weather and the unanticipated foundation work we got behind. Our schedule is set and we have to leave tomorrow! Right? Right? Well… So today I couldn’t work, my sinus infection had got the best of me and I was down for the count. Shumei took the day off from the Growing Dome build to plant their potato crop. Then that night it rained and watered all the potato seeds!! The timing was great.
4-11-13 Thursday, Great pictures don’t you think? I don’t think a narrative would compare to the picture story. Oh! Back to leaving Shumei… So, my wife Janet and I have decided she will stay on and I will leave for Colorado. After all, what the crew needs is experience and a leader who knows how to do it right. She’s the one for the job! To be continued…
Jamie Oliver talking about the Growing Dome as a “symbol of hope” for the Navajo Nation.
Each weekend I have a chance to look at our culture from a big picture place and notice both the troubles we are facing globally and in the US, as well as see the progress of those innovators who are bringing solutions. In an article, in 2011, Jessica Murray talked about the revolutionary times of the late 60’s for our generation being a precursor for today. “In the 60’s the looming dread was the atomic bomb. Now it’s environmental degradation; happening faster than anyone would have thought possible.” The term “ecocide” questions whether we will as a global society, extinguish ourselves via rising seas, lack of clean water and systems collapse.
I am aware that the period of turmoil we are in, including the disenfranchisement of the middle class in America leads to despair in some and to inspiring ingenuity and idealism in others.
Jamie Oliver is one of those visionaries who bring us down to the practical basics of how to once again create good nutrition by returning to our kitchens and our gardens. I am not surprised that he is British, as my own experience of my British husband Udgar’s ideals and love of food are rooted in his experience of Rationing after World War II. The imprint of this on his life is part of the solution he created in the Growing Dome® Greenhouse.
I am aware too that his vision includes teaching about “free resources” like the sun. We joke about being “dirt people” because, like the Slow Money movement, a part of our mission is to teach people how to literally replenish the earth. In future, we hope to sponsor teaching the principles of Shumei Natural Agriculture who are the masters of this.
Puja & Udgar Parsons of Growing Spaces
Our Growing Domes were designed to work in the Rocky Mountain winter. Most simply, this is possible because of a combination of a passive solar design and mindful gardening that uses frost hardy plants. Teaching how to garden in sync with the seasons and how to effectively use the heat and light of the sun is our mission. We are showing people how to see Nature as teacher and to live and work within her natural cycles. There are hidden gifts in this experience. But, as we travel North into dark winters and South into hot summers, of course we must augment our systems for year round growing. It is wonderful to meet so many other innovators who are inventing alternative energy solutions now. Our own involvement in our local geothermal development is motivated by wanting to find new sustainable sources of energy. These endeavors are an exciting part of our era. We both feel that a “new energy economy” could restore our culture, in the same way the Industrial Revolution in the 40’s and 50’s invigorated our society.
But often an idea is so simple, that it is not understood. For some, growing older and having tried many things means we becoming more “essential” and simple… much as the Zen tradition, points to simplicity and spaciousness as a way of life. Awareness-based living becomes more and more subtle in discipline. If we are moving too fast, or from our mental constructs, as we are trained to do in American culture, we can miss a practice based on holistic models.The simple message of returning to the earth through gardening, cooking in one’s own kitchen, and also becoming as economical as possible, is missed until the “practice” becomes a Way of Life.
Our great gratitude in 2012 was that our product was noticed and wanted increasingly by public schools, which is a new audience for us. (Check out this video from Galileo School of Math & Science: http://geodesic-greenhouse-kits.com/community/school-garden-program-inside-and-out/) The idea of a “living laboratory” for science on all levels, and the emotional support of a horticulture experience for kids of all ages is really showing in our client base. We had around 85 private schools as clients in years gone by, but the attraction to sustainable living systems is showing in the public arena now, even from universities like KTH Institute, the MIT of Sweden.Over the weekend, I watched Jamie Oliver receive Harvard’s Healthy Cup Award from for his work with schools and families in his now-famous Food Revolution. You can watch the video too here at: http://youtu.be/TlZujqScPos.
He endorsed our Growing Dome in 2009 as a “symbol of hope” on his American Road Tour, at the Navajo Nation, in Arizona.
We celebrate that we too are a part of this movement, and we hope that it will continue to grow around the world, on his second annual Food Revolution Day, this May 17th.
We feel fortunate to have people like April’s Dome of the Month Winner, Larry Berger, in our lives. They turn their passion, no matter what it is, into an art form. His passion just so happens to be our passion, gardening. He won April’s contest with this lovely overview shot of his full garden and it’s so rewarding to see his 22′ Growing Dome incorporated into a larger garden, a stunning larger garden at that. We couldn’t do Larry’s garden justice, although, without including a few of our other favorite pictures he’s sent over the years.
The 33′ Growing Dome at the Shumei Natural Agriculture Garden at the Rodale Institute is going up nicely. Richard Miller has been kind enough to send us updates as they go, so you can feel like you’re right there with them!
4-2-13 Puxatawney Phil is part of a stew right about now. No, not because the weather is any thing like Colorado, but the weather has been the best reason for not having the foundation ready and since Phil can’t talk, guess who is in the hot seat so to speak (that would be me). Anyway, the pictures of us working on the piers and digging trenches for water lines tell the story.
4-3-13 Wed., one week left! Where did the day go?? We basically worked from 7:45 am to 5:30 pm and I don’t recall working on a Growing Dome. Oh, that’s right, we were still finishing the Sonatube foundation. Once again the pics tell the story. We pour concrete first thing tomorrow morning, let’s see…
4-4-13 Thursday; Concrete, and can you believe it, some people actually got to work on Growing Dome pieces, at least the stem wall and pentagon assembly. Check out the photos, thanks for interns and Shumei volunteers!!
4-5-13 Friday, Life after a hot shower – reflecting on this past week, it’s interesting how my prespective can change. Gratitude – that’s what I’m feeling. Think of the short list of people on this planet that can take a ” hot ” shower and how your body feels afterwards. Gratitude – one of the basic principles in Shumei. Please don’t let me forget that! The weekend is soon at hand. This morning started with two end dumps full of gravel to fill up that 33′ Growing Dome middle. We worked on some Growing Dome components and leveled gravel, and leveled gravel, and leveled gravel…. The backhoe operator took out one of the piers, so we had to fix it, shoot it in with the others, and repour. Life has it’s adventures. Anyway, tomorrow with volunteer help we will start to assemble the Growing Dome structure.
4-6-13 Sat. Cold am, mild afternoon. We finished cladding stem wall and started to assemble wall on the piers. We entered the dimensional shift game, moving the Growing Dome to get just that ” sweet ” spot of where it wants to be. I know cause the Growing Dome told me so!
4-7-13 Sun. Good day with good friends and help. We got the first level up. We still have the final 3 sections of leveling and then on to installing the door pentagon.
4-8-13 Mon. Great weather, more like summer than spring. Finished the structure with the help of, as you can see from photos, a proud and hard working crew. Tomorrow, we have vent installation and covering the structure with the polycarbonate glazing panels. You’ll feel like you’re right there with us!!
In this day and age of the deluge of bad news, everyone does their best to filter out the pertinent information about what will affect their health and safety. In this article we’re going to do some filtering for you and walk through important new information about the safety of your fresh fruits and vegetables. We’ll offer resources and solutions along the way, so that you can be proactive and take care of your health.
Everyone’s been abuzz about the surprising findings of a recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) study that concluded that leafy greens (lettuce and spinach) caused more food borne illness (1 in 5) than any other type of food from 1998-2008 . Over the course of these ten years, leafy greens caused an approximate average of 960,000 illnesses per year. The good news, if it can be seen that way, is that these illnesses were not the most dangerous. Infected poultry caused the most deaths. Either way, who wants to worry if their healthy greens are safe or not?
When taking an anecdotal look at the headlines, this trend doesn’t seem to be specific to conventionally grown or organically grown foods. Rather, it seems to be a product of our industrial food system, but no fingers are being pointed as of yet as to the cause of the contamination. In August 2012, Dole Fresh Vegetables recalled cases of bagged salad from 8 states and, in September 2012, Kroger recalled spinach sold at stores in 15 states after both tested positive for Listeria monocytogens bacteria . In February of this year, Taylor farms voluntarily recalled from 35 states organic baby spinach sold under Walmart’s Marketside Organic and The Kroger Co.’s Simple Truth Organic brand that tested positive for E. Coli contamination .
Whether buying from the big chain grocery store or your farmer’s market or plucking your food straight from your garden it is always a good idea to wash your vegetables thoroughly before eating. The big difference is that when you grow your own food you know what you’ve put on it and in the soil. You know how it was cleaned, packaged and transported and you have the power to make it as safe as you can for you and your family.
While growing an organic garden is the best way to steer clear of pesticides in your produce, it’s not realistic to think that you’re all going to be able to grow every bit of produce you’d like to eat throughout the year. For those of you that can’t fathom buying all organic, there are some educated choices you can make to keep your pesticide exposure down.
One fantastic resource we found is at “What’s on my food?” (www.whatsonmyfood.org). They list many of the common fruits and vegetables along with the pesticides used on them, the percentage of the time the pesticides are found, AND the toxicity of these pesticides. Their charts are simple and easy to read and they have an app you can download for use in real-time while shopping. Still sound too complicated?
The best rule of thumb to follow is the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/). This is a simple, easy to memorize list of the fruits and vegetables that are the most pesticide laden. Recently they came out with the “Clean 15” to show the conventionally grown fruits and vegetables likely to have the lowest amounts of pesticides. This will help you to decide when to spend $7.00 on that small basket of organic strawberries that you really just have to have in November or if you can go with spending $4.00 on conventionally grown kiwi instead.
” Off Again To High Adventure”
with Richard Miller, Growing Spaces Staff
Question: What does Growing Spaces, Rodale Institute, and Shumei Natural Agriculture have in common?
Answer: A 33′ Growing Dome
22′ Growing Dome built in 2009 at the Shumei Natural Agriculture Garden at the Rodale Institute
Yes, it’s true… Here we go again. Janet and I, the lowly ventmaker, are ” off again to high adventure “. Well, 15′-6″ hi at least, to the top of the Growing Dome! On April 1st, we will begin installing a 33′ Growing Dome at the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA for the Shumei Natural Agriculture garden. It’s been about 3 and half years since the existing 22′ Growing Dome was installed by Rodale and Shumei staff, volunteers and myself. (To learn more about the Shumei Natural Agriculture garden at the Rodale Institute visit this page: http://rodaleinstitute.org/2012/natural-agriculture-at-the-rodale-institute/ ) So, this time, Janet is coming to make sure I do it right.
I’ll keep you on the edge of your seat??, with pictures and commentary. Think of it, it will be like you’re right there holding a piece of polycarbonate glazing for me and wondering why I’m in charge!
Site of the NEW 33′ Growing Dome going up this week
For sure, this is a special project and we are honored to be part of it. The science behind Rodale, the exquisite art of farming by Shumei and a greenhouse product that is ” Where Life Thrives “, all teamed up to provide a “working” model of a way to grow and think about our life, our food!
Be part of the adventure – stayed tuned. Richard
3-29-2013 Good Friday: WATCH OUT FOR THE HOLLAND TUNNEL when in Manhattan. When we arrived at JFK Airport the Shumei farmer at the Rodale Institude, Kenji Ban, met us at Delta airline arrivals and we were off. Little did we know it would take us 1:40 hr. to travel 6 blocks before Kenji could turn out of traffic and get us out of there. Finally, after dark we arrived at Rodale, and for now GOOD NIGHT!
3-30-2013 Sat: ALL PLAY AND NO WORK I’m sitting in the formal living room of an old, circa 1827, house at the Rodale Institute looking through Our Roots Run Deep, the story of Rodale. We are waiting for Kenji to pick us up for the new Shumei House party. Shumei just purchased a 1868 old church in Lyon Station, near Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Janet and I had a GREAT time and the pictures explain some of it.
4-1-2013 APRIL FOOLS, you thought we were starting the Growing Dome, HA! HA! The pictures show our progress with digging holes/trenches for electric and looking for water lines. Next we can get to work on the greenhouse!