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Dillon Valley dome to house food for local community

Janice Kurbjun
Summit Daily News
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Michael Mortvedt of Dillon Valley built up the domed walls of a geodesic greenhouse with project supervisor Greg Anderson Thursday. The greenhouse, situated next to Dillon Valley Elementary School, is to provide a place for hands-on learning for students as well as a place for the community to grow fresh food.
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A geodesic greenhouse has been going up in Dillon Valley over the weekend, scheduled for completion Sunday night.

A day into construction, on Friday, it was a domed web of wooden triangles held together by sheet metal plates, nuts and bolts. Upon completion, the structure will have a concrete base with polycarbonate glass allowing sun to shine indirectly from all directions.

The kit, which will eventually house a 22-foot diameter garden for school students at Dillon Valley Elementary and be surrounded by raised beds for community gardening, came from Pagosa Springs’ Growing Spaces.



The project is funded largely by a $20,000 grant from Live Well Colorado, but is estimated to cost about $40,000. Most of the remaining costs of work and materials have been in-kind donations, Summit Prevention Alliance grant manager Joanna Rybak said. Like staff support from Neils Lunceford. And free sheet metal from Breck Ironworks. And a “huge” discount from the Breckenridge Building Center, Rybak said.

Partners Summit Prevention Alliance, Summit School District, the Dillon Valley community steering committee and Neils Lunceford have been working together to get a healthy eating initiative into Dillon Valley to increase community access to local fruits and vegetables, she added.



“Community garden projects have such limited funding, it really takes involvement with the local community and businesses to make it happen,” she said, including a lot of volunteer work.

On site Thursday were several nearby residents, working as construction volunteers.

“(Summit Prevention Alliance) is a great organization,” Silverthorne’s Jeff Burke said, as he explained why he signed up. “I had three kids go through Dillon Valley Elementary and I’m not working right now. I wanted to keep community ties.”

Jason Read, whose wife directs the Summit Prevention Alliance, said he believes the project will be valuable to the community.

The dome is meant to be a classroom extension as well as a community center, she said, designed to get affordable produce into “the most underserved community in Colorado.”

To Anderson, the value isn’t just temporary.

“If you can get kids to grow their own food, that will transfer later in life,” he said.

The dome is solar-powered and completely self-sufficient. Anderson said. It has a temperature system that governs when vents open and shut for convection and cross-ventilation, project supervisor Greg Anderson said.

Sunlight filtering through the window panes reflects off a panel on the dome’s north side, pointing toward a water tank that also helps monitor the inside temperature and humidity. Operating together with the sun’s rays to passively heat the tank, fish and plants living inside the tank keep it clean and provide nutrient-rich water via misters, if the customer so chooses.

“You can make it so it’s a complete ecosystem,” Anderson said. “It’s a very organic way of doing things.”

He added that the dome’s inside temperature remains about 80 degrees, no matter how cold it is outside.

“You can trick the plants that it’s warmer out there,” Anderson said, to the point that some High Country customers plant banana trees – a tropical fruit.

“You can taste a real banana that hasn’t been engineered … It’s a different experience and it tastes awesome,” he said.


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