Bayfield nonprofit Pine River Shares has ramped up its fight for food security with year-round food production in its new dome-shaped greenhouse.
The greenhouse, a 33-foot geodesic dome, will allow the nonprofit to grow food all year as part of its community-driven effort to promote homestead food production and skill development.
The dome-raising started June 29 at the nonprofit’s location in downtown Bayfield. Community members celebrated its completion Saturday with an open house and cook out.
“It’s all part of our Field to Fork mission we’ve been working on for the past three years,” said Andrew Trujillo, who led the build. “This is just one part of that, and I think it’s going to be a great addition to the Pine River Shares food share once we do get it producing.”
The nonprofit will use the grow dome, located at the old primary school at 658 S. East St., to add fresh produce to its food share program throughout the year.
“It’ll be producing dense, nutritious food that could travel 50 feet to its end consumer,” Trujillo said.
The weekly free food-share program, and its associated food courier service, regularly provides food for more than 200 households in Bayfield, Ignacio, Tiffany, Allison, Arboles and other communities in the Pine River Valley. Family food bags are available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays at the downtown Bayfield Pine River Shares office.
The greenhouse, crafted by Growing Spaces based in Pagosa Springs, is the newest addition to the People’s Garden, which includes a recently planted 20-tree apple orchard and more than 1,900 square feet of fully planted in-ground garden beds, according to a Pine River Shares news release.
The People’s Garden is part of the Field to Fork program, which aims to grow a healthy, independent food system to meet the food needs of the 15,000 residents in eastern La Plata County.
The Field to Fork program grew out of conversations with more than 200 residents from every community in the Pine River Valley, which resulted in a long-range food security plan, according to the news release.
The plan promotes food production and skill development for people who want to grow food in their own yards. Its goal is to revive agricultural practices in the valley, which used to hold family farms, grain mills and dairies.
The greenhouse was purchased entirely through donations from community members. The Moniker Foundation, a private Colorado Springs foundation, provided grant funding for some installation costs and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps provided volunteers for the build, the news release said.
“Basically, we’re trying to produce as much food as we can,” Trujillo said.
The grow dome will focus on growing plants that provide a large amount of produce over shorter growing periods, like cherry tomatoes, Swiss chard, kale, spinach, peppers and green beans, he said.
There is still some work to do, such as putting down gravel and building raised garden beds. If people would like to be involved with the garden, they should contact Pine River Shares, Trujillo said.
“All of this food is going to be going out with the food shares,” Trujillo said. “These domes grow throughout the winter, so we’ll try to get those hardy greens to keep producing throughout the winter as well.”