Greenhouse Gardening for Children: Three Rivers School

Greenhouse Gardening for Children: Three Rivers School

Greenhouse gardening is helping students at Three Rivers School harvest much more than food and flowers.

Gardening is hard to beat for promoting well-rounded development in children. Whether the garden is in a greenhouse or community patch, kids who grow fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat fresh, healthy produce. 

Recent research shows that kids involved in hands-on school growing programs developed an increased snacking preference for fruits and veggies. In addition to improving their health, engaging children in the growing process helps them develop curiosity, learn to be more resourceful, and grow their own self-confidence.

That’s why we used our Central Oregon Health Council grant to build a 20×20 greenhouse for Three Rivers School in Sunriver. We chose Three Rivers School to create an opportunity for local children to develop the skills and creativity needed to grow their own sustainable food year-round.

Here’s the step-by-step process of how we built our sustainable year-round greenhouse for Three Rivers School.

Phase one: Construction

These are the steps we take to create a solid foundation and sturdy structure. 

We use machinery to make sure the depth of our foundation is uniform. 

Then we use commercial-grade cement to ensure a stable foundation.

The posts are pitched to ensure integrity. 

We make to-size bows and arches onsite. From there, baseboards are secured to strengthen the structure and ensure the integrity of the foundation poles. 

The arches and bows are then secured. The height from the center of the bow to the ground is 14 feet. This structured style ensures that snow slopes off easily during the winter season. 

Then we reinforce the center framework to provide additional strength to the greenhouse. The mountain-like shape ensures extra safety and security, increasing the structure’s ability to withstand heavy snow loads before it slides off.  

Brace bands are then added on the sides to withstand and counter the pitching effects of heavy winds and transfer the momentum and wind force to the base structure, stabilizing the greenhouse against heavy winds. 

Once the framing and end walls are erected, we installed poly 6 mil plastic membrane walls. 

Fans are installed for circulation.

Phase 2: Soil Foundation

It’s important to take great care with laying a soil foundation. We start with laying cardboard and Organic Alfalfa Hay to create an environment for the microbes, healthy bacteria and fungi, and earthworms to thrive underneath the logs. 

Then we stack wood logs neatly to create the base foundation. 

We use wood chips to fill out air gaps within the logs.

Next comes the layer of our trusted compost, then our topsoil.

The pathway is layered with compost to encourage the growth of our edible mushrooms on the path. 

This is followed by a nice healthy layer of wood chips for the mushrooms to thrive.

Irrigation is done diligently to create an ecosystem of healthy growing mediums. 

Once the irrigation is laid out and micro-sprinklers are installed, we add our unique blend of microbes, beneficial bacteria, fungus, and other healthy and organic soil builders and minerals. We top this off with organic alfalfa hay, which serves as food for these thriving microbes. 

The center island area in green will be used to plant avocado trees, and different colors on the side beds represent different companion planting areas. The area shaded brown next to purple on the right side is designated for seed starters. Edible red wine cap mushrooms will grow on the pathway.

Here is the final foundation, ready to be planted!

We created a flower bed on all sides outside the greenhouse to bring extra joy and beauty. Our clients’ smiles and joy make this a job well done in our book.

The final phase is to give education and support on how to grow sustainable year-round food so our clients can enjoy their harvest to the fullest. 

If you’re ready to explore the vast world of greenhouse growing and how to start an organic greenhouse, you can book your 15-minute free consultation via our contact page.

We’re truly excited to help you plan, build, and enjoy the greenhouse and organic crops of your dreams.

Book your free consultation here.

Greenhouse Gardening for Children: Three Rivers School

Greenhouse Gardening for Children: Three Rivers School

Greenhouse gardening is helping students at Three Rivers School harvest much more than food and flowers.

Gardening is hard to beat for promoting well-rounded development in children. Whether the garden is in a greenhouse or community patch, kids who grow fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat fresh, healthy produce. 

Recent research shows that kids involved in hands-on school growing programs developed an increased snacking preference for fruits and veggies. In addition to improving their health, engaging children in the growing process helps them develop curiosity, learn to be more resourceful, and grow their own self-confidence.

That’s why we used our Central Oregon Health Council grant to build a 20×20 greenhouse for Three Rivers School in Sunriver. We chose Three Rivers School to create an opportunity for local children to develop the skills and creativity needed to grow their own sustainable food year-round.

Here’s the step-by-step process of how we built our sustainable year-round greenhouse for Three Rivers School.

Phase one: Construction

These are the steps we take to create a solid foundation and sturdy structure. 

We use machinery to make sure the depth of our foundation is uniform. 

Then we use commercial-grade cement to ensure a stable foundation.

The posts are pitched to ensure integrity. 

We make to-size bows and arches onsite. From there, baseboards are secured to strengthen the structure and ensure the integrity of the foundation poles. 

The arches and bows are then secured. The height from the center of the bow to the ground is 14 feet. This structured style ensures that snow slopes off easily during the winter season. 

Then we reinforce the center framework to provide additional strength to the greenhouse. The mountain-like shape ensures extra safety and security, increasing the structure’s ability to withstand heavy snow loads before it slides off.  

Brace bands are then added on the sides to withstand and counter the pitching effects of heavy winds and transfer the momentum and wind force to the base structure, stabilizing the greenhouse against heavy winds. 

Once the framing and end walls are erected, we installed poly 6 mil plastic membrane walls. 

Fans are installed for circulation.

Phase 2: Soil Foundation

It’s important to take great care with laying a soil foundation. We start with laying cardboard and Organic Alfalfa Hay to create an environment for the microbes, healthy bacteria and fungi, and earthworms to thrive underneath the logs. 

Then we stack wood logs neatly to create the base foundation. 

We use wood chips to fill out air gaps within the logs.

Next comes the layer of our trusted compost, then our topsoil.

The pathway is layered with compost to encourage the growth of our edible mushrooms on the path. 

This is followed by a nice healthy layer of wood chips for the mushrooms to thrive.

Irrigation is done diligently to create an ecosystem of healthy growing mediums. 

Once the irrigation is laid out and micro-sprinklers are installed, we add our unique blend of microbes, beneficial bacteria, fungus, and other healthy and organic soil builders and minerals. We top this off with organic alfalfa hay, which serves as food for these thriving microbes. 

The center island area in green will be used to plant avocado trees, and different colors on the side beds represent different companion planting areas. The area shaded brown next to purple on the right side is designated for seed starters. Edible red wine cap mushrooms will grow on the pathway.

Here is the final foundation, ready to be planted!

We created a flower bed on all sides outside the greenhouse to bring extra joy and beauty. Our clients’ smiles and joy make this a job well done in our book.

The final phase is to give education and support on how to grow sustainable year-round food so our clients can enjoy their harvest to the fullest. 

If you’re ready to explore the vast world of greenhouse growing and how to start an organic greenhouse, you can book your 15-minute free consultation via our contact page.

We’re truly excited to help you plan, build, and enjoy the greenhouse and organic crops of your dreams.

Book your free consultation here.

How to Start an Organic Greenhouse: Frequently Asked Questions

How to Start an Organic Greenhouse: Frequently Asked Questions

Curious about how to start an organic greenhouse?

You’re not alone. Organic growing is rising in popularity, and for good reasons.

Our organic greenhouse tips will help you start your own family-friendly organic garden that produces delicious, healthy food for your family, friends, and meals year-round.

What are the benefits of organic growing?

Growing food with organic systems uses 45% less energy and doesn’t contribute to the accumulation of toxins in waterways. Organic greenhouses foster a healthier world by encouraging soil health and supporting natural ecosystems. 

Growing organically also cuts carbon emissions by 40% compared to conventional farming and growing methods, lowering your growing cost for years to come.

Unlike non-organic goods, organic foods go from farm to table without synthetic ingredients. This means that you’ll avoid exposure to substances linked to health issues like a weakened immune system. 

Since organic growing avoids chemical additives, organic foods are also more environmentally friendly and support local biodiversity. Chemical pesticides are often fatal to helpful pollinators like bees, so organic farming and growing provides much-needed support to the honeybee population.

Organic vegetables

What makes an organic greenhouse “organic”? 

Organic greenhouse farming excludes synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and growth regulators. Instead, organic growing favors natural methods. These methods rely on crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, organic wastes, legumes, green manures, and even mineral-bearing rocks to feed their soil and supply their plants with the nutrients they need to thrive.

Can my greenhouse be certified organic? 

Yes! Your greenhouse farming operation–in this case, your greenhouse–can be certified as organic. Organic greenhouse vegetable, herb, and flower production is actually a widespread practice by certified organic farmers and market gardeners. 

You might find a few organic growers at your local farmer’s market or start selling your own organic crops at one. 

The National Organic Program (NOP) provides certification standards and rules organic farming operations, including greenhouses, need to follow for USDA organic certification

For instance, your soil needs to be free from prohibited substances like chemical pesticides for at least three years. You can use artificial lights in your greenhouse, but you’ll need organic or untreated seeds. 

Here’s how to get USDA organic certified:

  1. Find a local accredited organic certifying agent.
  2. Create a stable organic system plan. (We can help you with this.)
  3. Follow the rest of the USDA organic certification process with help from your agent.

How do I start developing my organic greenhouse vision? 

Each greenhouse and each grower is unique, so developing your vision is a great place to start. 

You can start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Which fruits, vegetables, and herbs do I love to eat? 
  • Which plants spark joy when I see or smell them? 
  • Who do I want to share this experience with? (Friends, family, neighbors, or any other members of my community?)
  • Where would I like to place this greenhouse?
  • How much time and money am I ready to invest in my dream? 

It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers yet. Our team at Shakti Farm Design has years of experience designing and crafting organic greenhouses alongside our clients, no matter how big or small their vision may be. 

If you’re excited about organic greenhouse growing, speaking with a professional can help you chart and navigate your path to the greenhouse of your daydreams. 

How do I start an organic greenhouse now that I have my vision?

Now that you have your vision, you’re ready to consider the following:

  • Do I currently have my own equipment, tools, and materials?
  • How much experience do my community or I have with any greenhouse growing?
  • What kind of help do I need to make my vision come to life? 

Shakti Farm Design can help you make your organic greenhouse dream a reality. 

Our designs and gardens are crafted to evoke a meditative quality when you move through your organic oasis. We’re here for you from start to finish, including the design, building, creating permaculture inspired soil foundation, and year around growing process. We also provide you with a fully customized book of information on your specific greenhouse, its maintenance needs, and detailed notes on what to grow at different times of the year based on your favorite herbs, vegetables, and flowers. 

If you’re ready to explore the vast world of greenhouse growing and how to start an organic greenhouse, you can book your 15-minute free consultation via our contact page.

We’re truly excited to help you plan, build, and enjoy the greenhouse and organic crops of your dreams.

 

Book your free consultation here.

Organic Greenhouse Adventures: Ed’s Tomato Dilemma

Organic Greenhouse Adventures: Ed’s Tomato Dilemma

 

Organic Greenhouse Growing:

Ed called us about his tomato plants, which were yielding smaller, fewer fruits after years of pesticide use. Here’s how we helped.

Our vision is to create a sustainable, enduring food-growing experience for our clients and our planet.

But while most greenhouse builders know to include a sturdy structure, weatherproofing, and waterproofing, many stop there. That means that once the structure is built, there’s little support on what a greenhouse owner should do next. 

The general trend is to start the planting process immediately: investing time and money in soil and seeds and getting to work. 

While this method works for a season or two, you might notice a sudden drop-off in harvestable food and that your plants are nutrient-deficient or disease-ridden soon after. To combat this, people often try pesticides and fertilizers, only to find a temporary increase in plant health and another drop-off in plant health right before harvest.

So, is adding fertilizers again and again and using chemical-rich pesticides the only way to keep your greenhouse plants thriving? Thankfully, there’s another, more sustainable way to grow. 

Greenhouse owners who want to take the organic route and avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides are often left in the dark about improving their growing and food quality without synthetic chemicals.

Creating Your Own Compost

While this option is effective, it takes a lot of care and attention to maintain the correct temperature in the heap and to continuously add organic matter. If it’s done incorrectly, the composting process invites insects and flies into the area, creating a hygiene problem. Here’s how to do it right. 

Ed’s Tomato Dilemma 

Ed had an excellent greenhouse structure in place. But when I met him, he shared concerns about his soil. Ed showed me his tomato plants, which yielded smaller and fewer fruits than in previous years. Outside his greenhouse, he’d made a small garden. Unfortunately, there was no longer any sign of the morning glory flowers he loved and planted with so much care and joy this year. 

Naturally, we stepped in to help.

Nourishing Soil 

Soil is a living organism, and like any organism, it needs nourishment and nutrients to sustain the complex biodiversity which lives in it. Billions of bacteria and microorganisms live in our bodies, keeping us healthy and alive. Likewise, these microorganisms and bacteria keep the soil’s structure and complex biodiversity alive to keep the whole system healthy. 

Ed was happy to hear that Shakti Farm Design takes an organic approach, avoiding short-lived solutions like pesticides and chemicals that would further hurt his soil and plants.

When to Fix Your Soil

We started this project in November to prepare his greenhouse and outside garden for the spring. Winter and fall are the best times to start a soil-building project. The extra time allows the foundation to settle and microorganisms to flourish under the right temperature and conditions.

Building Ed’s Soil Foundation

To build the soil foundation, we use aged wood logs and techniques inspired by Hugukulture. If you visit a forest, you’ll often see that fallen logs support life on the fallen branches and trunk where another tree or shrub grows. That’s because a fallen tree’s trunk provides essential nutrients to many living organisms, helping nurture life and healthy growth. 

This is the time-tested, forest-inspired organic philosophy we use in our soil structure. Once the growing mound is complete with logs, compost, and topsoil, we introduce our unique blend of microbes and mycelium to create a natural habitat and environment for the soil to flourish and grow. 

What’s Mycelium? 

Mycelium is the growing body from which mushrooms fruit, just like a tomato plant is the growing body from which a tomato fruit blooms. Underneath the earth, the mycelium network is the largest kingdom of growing organisms, and scientists are learning more about fungi all the time.  

Mycelium is vital for a plant’s health and the general well-being of your soil. Since mycelium doesn’t have its own chlorophyll for photosynthesis, it creates a symbiotic relationship with plants. These mycelium networks provide nutrients from breaking down logs to the roots of the plant in exchange for sugar, which the plant produces through photosynthesis above the ground. 

This relationship keeps Ed’s plants healthy and disease-free while keeping his soil structure alive and thriving in the long run. 

Living Plants Need Living Soil

Alongside fungus, we also introduced healthy microbes and our favorite European night crawlers to keep Ed’s soil healthy and provide additional nutrients to his growing plants. 

As with all of our clients, we advised Ed to keep feeding his topsoil with organic hay and/or cover crop. We include this and additional information on the fine details of growing in the plans we give each greenhouse client. Feeding the soil is essential for healthy plants since these living organisms thrive in equally living soil. 

We also provided Ed with a manual on how to grow sustainable year-round food in his greenhouse. 

Companion Planting

We also included layout plans for companion planting, with intensive research showing which plants will grow well together. When we grow plants that are compatible to grow with each other, there is less competition for a specific nutrient that a plant needs to grow. Companion plants help each other to fight off diseases and pests, along with nurturing a healthy growing plant. 

Before we stepped in, Ed was venturing out in every kind of weather to water his plants every morning and night. To give him some time off, we created a complete automated watering system for his greenhouse. These days, he spends less time watering and more time doing what he loves. 

We also provided Ed with more information about his system’s automated thermostat heaters and ventilation fans to keep his plants and his greenhouse thriving. 

Here are some photos from before and after Ed’s project:

Let’s begin with a five star rating, with five being the highest. In this case, we’d consider seven stars from the very start to the very end. It’s been a magical journey, from the project’s conception to Shiv’s knowledge of sustainable, year-round food growing, to permaculture designing with companion planting. It was truly magical, because it only took 17 days until the first germination of winter seedlings!
These people are great to work side-by-side with, and we had fun!
Thank you for the experience,

– Ed

We are looking forward to spring, when Ed and his plants will flourish and glow with joy, naturally and organically. 

Book your free Greenhouse consultation here.

 

Bend Source Feature – High Desert Greenhouse

Bend Source Feature – High Desert Greenhouse

We’re honored to have been featured in the Bend Source! Take a peek at their article on growing high desert greenhouses here.

Greening The High Desert

A permaculture farm on Hunnel Road demonstrates the abundance that can happen, even in the High Desert

“My wish is for every home in Bend to grow their own food.”

A dream? Not in the mind of Shiv Shakti, an optimist transforming 10 acres of the High Desert into a permaculture paradise.

JAYDE SILBERNAGEL CREATIONS

JAYDE SILBERNAGEL CREATIONS

In the local news the words “Hunnel Road” often conjure ideas of homelessness and dilapidated RVs, but after the dead end, the notorious road picks up again a bit farther north and leads to the oasis known as Shakti Farm Design.

Shakti began his journey in Bend leading meditations—a practice he still continues at the Hanai Center every Thursday. During COVID, the lockdowns gave most people lots of free time. Rather than catch up on Netflix shows, Shakti chose to create a sustainable farm in the High Desert, not the easiest task as those who have tried to grow in Central Oregon unfortunately know.

JAYDE SILBERNAGEL CREATIONS

When I arrived at the farm, Shakti spoke to our group as we anxiously awaited entry to a large 30-foot by 96-foot greenhouse. Meanwhile, calming Indian flute music played, because the plants love the vibration, he said. The wait did not disappoint. Lush green vegetation filled the inside. A path of wood chips led through Hügelkultur mounds in the shape of spirals. This purposeful geometry creates flows of energies to encourage growth. Below the mounds a mulch of cardboard, hay and logs from local arborists combine to create a black soil so rich that earthworms were seen when picking up even one handful.

Mushrooms sprout in some parts of the wood chips, the fungus a sure sign of a healthy environment. Wildflowers such as poppies bloom outside along the borders of the greenhouse to attract pollinators. When the flaps are open they fly in and out freely. Companion plants are grouped together to create the most beneficial ecosystem possible.

Brian Ross, the manager, offered a treasure trove of information. Working in Phoenix, parts of Colorado and other climates, his passion for permaculture was obvious. An experimenter, he discussed the differences in California and Florida avocados, the seemingly endless varieties of herbs and greens, and other creative endeavors in horticulture. As he shared his knowledge, Ross picked a piece of this and that to taste.

“Yep, that’s dill,” and proceeded to give me a delicious-sounding recipe I would have never thought of with the herb.

During my visit, a group of younger kids and parents were also visiting. Shakti and Ross helped the children as they climbed atop the mounds to pick greens, carrots and other vegetables, hands and faces covered in dirt, veggies in their mouths.

Scenes from Shakti Farm Design: A path of wood chips and all the bounty. - JAYDE SILBERNAGEL CREATIONS

Scenes from Shakti Farm Design: A path of wood chips and all the bounty.

Outside of the greenhouse the property is also thriving. Shakti showed us a section with blooming fruit trees, each with its own crystal buried nearby to channel positive energy. Another area with nut trees was recently planted. Chickens, duck and turkeys roamed their own areas. In two small ponds, both crystal clear, minnows and koi happily swam. Amazingly, most all of these projects have been created within the last few years, a true testament to what can be accomplished with a vision.

Shakti wants everyone to experience and understand the importance of sustainable growth.

“The way in which food transportation and monoculture has been going on for decades has led to carbon emissions, depleted soil and less-nutrient-rich food. These practices are unsustainable.”

Many people would prefer to know the origin of their food, but greenhouses can be a significant investment of time and money. This is where Shakti wants to fill the gap. Customers only need to follow a three-word slogan: seed, feed, harvest. All the backbreaking work, from the excavation to construction and even to the planting, is taken care of by experts. Once a client’s greenhouse is up and running, they can do as much or as little as they like. Detailed guides and continued support from the Shakti Farms crew help maintain the structure and teach about growing.

After the tour I had planned to visit the grocery store, so luckily I had brought reusable bags. I left Shakti’s place with more than a few items from my list: fresh produce, herbs and some eggs. Most importantly, I confirmed my hope that growing in the High Desert is possible.