I have always wanted a green house. Now that The Backwoods Visitors’ Center & Community Shoppe owns about an acre and a half of land that the shoppe sits on, we can implement our very own green house for community use. The only problem is that I want to do it “right.” So I started day dreaming…
Growing up, I was always surrounded by the idea of permaculture, being as sustainable as possible, and treating our Earth (mother) with respect. So, when thinking about the empty space on the side of our lot (that desperately needs to be landscaped), I first thought I would landscape in edibles, but why not build a green house that incorporated more than just one idea…
Our little piece of property. The land between the orange lines is what we have to work with (there’s a lot of asphalt around, I know…). Plus we have more of a forested patch in the back not shown in this pic, but I would like to leave it as so.
A while ago, I ran across this great write up about the idea of a “Walipini.” A walipini uses thermal energy, as well as solar, to heat the greenhouse. In order to access thermal energy effectively, you need to dig down 6-8 feet into the Earth (the closer to our Earth’s magma core the warmer you’ll get!) See the gravel-y patch on the upper side of the picture of the shoppe? That is where Underground Storage Tanks were taken out from, so I know there is nothing down there. In my dreams, I plan on digging down 10 feet, filling two feet up with gravel for adequate drainage, and then creating two feet tall raised beds on the sides and leaving a gravel path that could be might be considered “sunken.” Here are some of my sketches that pictorially explain that idea I just laid out for you 🙂 Please keep in mind that none of these sketches are to scale, nor have the correct angles… these pictures are just my imagination on paper and will become more accurate with time 🙂
This would be the east view looking in. The bottom two quadrants would be under ground. The south facing roof angle is at a 57 degree angle, based on Long Creek’s latitude + 23 degrees= roof being perpendicular to the sun at the winter solstice. We will be building a passive solar roof. The X es mark where windows will go that can open to allow cool air in the summer to enter and fall while pushing hot air up and out through the top set. Vines will cover the roof during the summertime to create the cool air entering. A bout a 14 inch over hang will also help create complete shade over the lower set during summer months only. The back wall (north wall) will be cinder block because they have the ability to store heat, but more importantly, my dad found a bunch on the property he bought= FREE material! The writing you can barely see starting on the right and working clockwise is gutter trough, footers for roof, 6ft, 2ft, 2ft gravel drainage, raised beds/sunken path, gutter, 57* tilt
South facing side. I would like to use as little wood as possible because this greenhouse could be humid year round. Pressure treated wood can get costly if using a bunch. We are a nonprofit, so even $100 worth of wood would be considered a lot. All framing around windows are bottles in cement maybe a hook cemented in each column for a hook and latch to open windows in summer. Overhang as well as vines should help provide the right cooling temperatures for the summer. Come winter, sun will beam through bottles, clear plastic roof sheets, and windows.
This is the southeast view of the future greenhouse. This will be the only part you will see sticking out of the ground. The southern slanted roof will be one of our only expenses, some of that corrugated clear plastic roofing material. The east side will be all glass bottles with mortar between them for structural integrity. The north facing slope will be a living roof, the other expense I am hoping to brainstorm a recycled route for… Please comment if you have any ideas!!
Here is the northwest facing side. Starting on the left and working clockwise, here are the words you can barely read, and a description to follow 🙂
willow woven living fence. Instead of having to buy chicken wire or other fencing, I am hoping someone will allow me to take a bunch of willow clippings in order to test out creating a living fence to keep the chickens in and most predators out. The willow will also have a dual purpose- its rooting hormone. I first thought about Guadua angustifolia, for it’s beauty and excellent building capabilities, but because this section of land is narrow, I didn’t like the idea of it running onto neighboring land (I’m a friendly neighbor, don’t want to make anyone mad!)
The oth wall will be made from cinder block, but it won’t be seen from the outside because dirt will be pushed up to it, and a pondless waterfall will be created beside it. The waterfall will be fueled by rainwater being flushed down the gutters. and will be collected by the indoor ponds.
Chicken door (maybe a little bridge will be added in case a crazy chicken wants to go outside while it’s raining…)
Living roof, maybe growing chicken food and other goodies.
The west side is the access point into the greenhouse. Stairs might be granite if my husband has the time (he is the most amazing stone mason!), but most likely I will dig out stair shape then coat in red clay collected from site. This same clay I am thinking of covering the inner slopes with, or maybe planting something good for erosion control. What do you think?
Edge around stair so no one walks off the edge of the Earth will be, again, mortar and glass bottles. The least amount of cement used because it won’t be holding a bunch of extra weight.
Bird’s eye view of structure layout and an idea about the interior. One half of the greenhouse will be dedicated to growing plants. The other half will host the recirculating ponds and chicken coop. The ponds might host fish as well as water plants. Water is known to store heat the best, and if the south facing sides are painted black and north sides are painted white, the heat should be expelled properly. Overflow will drain into chicken waterer, and that will overflow into garden beds. In the chicken coop side, roosts will be built into the walls, and nesting boxes will be built with access from the other side. Screen, maybe something else if someone has an epic idea, will separate the coop/compost from the rest of the greenhouse.The greenhouse will also house a potting table with storage underneath. Depending on the final dimensions of the project, there will be 3, maybe 4 posts/pillars to help support the living roof. These supports I am thinking will be granite rock work (trying not to use wood, remember).
Material wish list:
- backhoe services
- bags of mortar
- bags of concrete
- corrugated plastic roofing sheets
- screen (who’s got that epic idea?)
- food grade barrels/livestock troughs/ pond liners
- pressure treated wood
- monolithic type waterproof rubber membrane + 6mm sheet of plastic (again looking for some intelligent brain to help me with a genius idea for the living roof…)
Free stuff you can help us collect:
- clear glass bottles, rinsed out
- reclaimed windows
- reclaimed door*
- large good looking rocks for pondless waterfall/wash
- cinder blocks
- garden soil for living roof start
*= already have, thank you!
If you would like to donate funds to this community greenhouse project, please click here, and it will send you to a trusted and secure Paypal page. The Backwoods Visitors’ Center & Community Shoppe is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, therefor any and all donations are tax exempt! We appreciate all your help!! If you want to send or deliver building supplies, we appreciate your help and you can send them of drop them off at The Backwoods Visitors’ Center & Community Shoppe 13847 Long Creek HWY, Long Creek, SC, 29658
****WANT TO VOLUNTEER IN BUILDING THIS GRAND EXPERIMENT?? GET A HOLD OF US! PLENTY OF CAMPING TO BE HAD, AND THE MORE THE MERRIER!