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• Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Geodesic GreenhouseWouldn’t it be great to extend the growing season from 3 months to 10 or 11 months? What if there were a way to garden year-round OUTSIDE without building an expensive greenhouse?

There is a way and the answer is lying in the middle of the St. Laurence river: the Buckminister Fuller designed Biosphere.  The structure of the dome mimics the Platonic solids and sacred geometry found throughout nature, including our bodies.

The geodesic dome is an amazing design because it is very strong and yet light. It needs no permanent foundation and thus could be easily moved to another site, if required.

Source: Growing Spaces

While winter winds & snow sweep the length and breadth of the ranch at Hummingbird Living School, inside the dome it’s a cozy 65º and rising as the morning sun shines into the translucent geodesic greenhouse.

Our 42-foot dome was erected in four days, but that was only the beginning.  It’s an ongoing community effort to set up the water tank, build the loft and haul many wheelbarrows of rich soil into the structure for the beds.  And we love it all! The peripheral ring of beds is complete and already home to tender sprouting plants.”

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9 Responses

  1. 1
    elizabeth hanulak 

    the geodome’s time has come. there is no better time than now to exploit such a simple and effective method of personal sustainability. and as an aside, to separate the earth from the earth, may be even more necessary as we enter the unavoidable age of fracking and further pollution and toxic decimation of our agricultural mainlands. it is going to become more and more about what one can sustain, quite literally, within one’s own individual backyard.

  2. 2
    Sasha 

    Thanks for pointing out how the geodesic greenhouse is actually a platonic solid! I hadn’t even though of it that way. However the profound sense of peace that one feels when inside a geodome is amazing! And then it gets even better if you add living things to the inside of the dome, like plants, flowers and fish.

    I love the fact that domes are so amazingly strong and yet feel so open an airy. What kind of kit did you buy? One of the growing spaces ones? When I finally build one here on our 18 acre permaculture farm I am trying to decide if we will go with the pipe and bolt method or the crazy compound angles out of wood method. Both have advantages but I think I am leaning toward wood at this point as it seems much easier to fit panels to afterward.

    I also agree with Elizabeth’s post that now is the time for growing ones own food or at least starting the process. Michael Pollen says we should, my farmer parents say we should and when we do grow our own food it is such an amazing connection with the earth and the food.

    Thanks again for the post and I will be following this site now to hear about your progress!

  3. 3
    Sasha 

    P.S. We are out in BC so at least the winters aren’t so cold, though they are rainy and grey!

  4. Sasha,
    We are exploring the options now. Wood seems the way to go: light, flexible and organic. What is your experience? The kit seems to be the easy way to go, but it would be educational (or frustrating) to build one from the many plans that exist on the Internet already.

  5. 5
    Sasha 

    Unfortunately I haven’t actually been able to start cutting wood for a 3v dome.

    My friend (with no real previous carpentry skills mind you) built two domes out of wood.

    He used standard lumber from Home Depot and had found some space age insulating double wall cold weather greenhouse material for it. By the time the dust settled he figured the 40ft 3V frame cost around $2K
    including cement, lumber, fasteners, stain and tools.

    Since then he has moved to warmer climates and has started building domes with steel struts.

    He wrote an ebook about his techniques that a number of people have since used to build similar domes.

    So… I guess I will start with wood and follow his cutting plans when I build my dome.

    However I will for sure build a small one first! The kids can always use it as a play structure.

  6. 6
    Pefder magfrok 

    The dome is impracticality at its worst. And don’t get me started on the notion of buildings with windows that catch fire!

    The entire history of the geodesic dome experience is a rainy leakfest at best. Sure, looks nice from a distance, but sustainable, or even habitable they are not.

    Sorry, but get real!

  7. Pefder,
    These domes are not designed to be habitable for humans – just for growing plants. And for that, they have a very good track record. Have you ever built one?

  8. 8
    Sasha 

    Sorry to hear that you haven’t had good dome experiences PM.

    There are many domes out here on the wet coast of Canada both greenhouse and house domes. They are almost all built from wood and covered with some form of traditional roof system. Greenhouse domes don’t mind a bit of leakage but done properly they are proof against the wildest storms.

  9. 9
    elizabeth hanulak 

    water in relationship to any kind of man-made structure is always the enemy. as sasha says, because these structures are for generating plant life, some seepage isn’t going to harm much.

    as you state pefder, “the entire history” of the geodome…geodomes have been around for quite some time and there is a good reason for that. integrity in construction is key. as technology and materials progress, therefore will the geodome but as it stands now, the benefits far outweigh the negatives when it comes sustainable greenhouse alternatives. it is a solid viable solution.

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