Tlingit & Haida Completes Construction on New Greenhouse
Tucked behind the Edward K. Thomas building in Juneau is Tlingit & Haida’s new dome-shaped greenhouse. The project has been months in the making and is based on a vision for a tribal community garden to create food sovereignty.
The greenhouse project is funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and a planning grant from the Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF). The design was created by Growing Spaces from Pagosa Springs, Colorado, a company known for its geodesic-shaped greenhouses. With the help of Tlingit & Haida’s construction crew, the project was completed in just over a week.
Lindsey Pierce, an Environmental Specialist, believes this will be a good learning experience for the Tribe. She said the Native Lands & Resources department will be looking for guidance from local experts on soil health, best gardening practices and composting.
“It’s awesome being able to stand here and see it come together,” says Pierce. “I started to get excited when they drew the circle outline on the ground and I cannot wait to see how the produce does this year.”
The geometric design of the dome is not only beautiful, but it’s also practical and can withstand Juneau’s weather 365 days a year. The triangular panels forming the dome greenhouse provide a strong structure not replicated in a rectangular shape. The North Wall Insulation (also called “Reflectix”) helps keep the greenhouse cozy during the long winter nights and reflects light evenly onto the plants during the day for maximum growth. In the central air system (also known as the “undersoil heating & cooling system”), a solar panel at the top of the greenhouse produces electricity to power a fan that blows air inside the greenhouse through pipes buried in the perimeter raised soil beds. The air at the intake is warm in the winter and cool in the summer, which effectively heats or cools the soil depending on the time of year. The intentional design will stand up very well in Juneau’s seasonal climates.
For the Native Lands & Resources department who is overseeing the project, the dream is to eventually involve the Tribe’s Head Start students in the garden growing process and supply fresh produce to our tribal enterprises such as Smokehouse Catering and Sacred Grounds Café. For the first year, the team will focus on growing the basics: broccoli, kale, spinach and Tlingit potatoes, some of which were provided by Sustainable Southeast.
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