It’s been nearly 70 years since Buckminster Fuller’s uniquely shaped, mid-century engineering marvel, the geodesic dome, entered the architectural consciousness, and people have been finding ways to take advantage of the structure’s impressive combination of lightweight and incredible strength ever since.
One such company is Growing Spaces. Founder Udgar Parsons was inspired by John Denver’s Windstar Foundation, which featured a biodome greenhouse to showcase sustainable, self-reliant, year-round gardening practices. He set about finding ways for individual homeowners to recreate the concept on a smaller scale.
After 30 years, Udgar and his wife Puja sold the company to Lem and Liz Tingley in 2018. “We fell in love with this product,” says Liz. “We met with Puja and Udgar one weekend, the next week we’re buying the company!”
The new owners are equally committed to bringing sustainable gardening to the masses, which comes in the form of greenhouse kits in six sizes from 15 to 42 feet and include a foundation wall; the uniquely shaped polycarbonate panels, struts and hubs (“It’s sort of like a paint-by-numbers kit,” says Director of Marketing Kenzie Jackson); and an above ground pond. The latter is key to the all-season use; it keeps the dome cool in the summer and warm in the winter in tandem with automatic, solar-powered vents and fans that respond as needed to changing temperatures.
In addition to the greenhouse, Kenzie explains that you get a lifetime of community support. “We are here to help you,” she says. “And so are the hundreds and hundreds of other Growing Dome owners across the world, not just in the United States, a whole community of people that wants you to be successful, to feel confident growing your own food. There’s so much empowerment in seeing something come out of the ground that is all your own.”
“A rectangular greenhouse will have hot and cold spots,” says Liz. “You don’t get evenly dispersed sunlight throughout the day. When you walk into a dome, it’s like a sanctuary. It’s very peaceful. Some people have a little area to sit, have a dinner table, some do yoga. It’s a nice space, not just to grow things, but just to be.”
Liz and Kenzie offer five key points for getting the most out of your Growing Dome:
- Know what you want to grow. That affects everything from ventilation to temperature and what kind of soil you choose.
- Be patient. You might not be successful the first time around. Growing Dome owners love the experiences of figuring out what does and doesn’t work for them, and just because you see it work in Michigan doesn’t mean it works in Colorado.
- Never bring an outside plant into your greenhouse if you don’t know where it came from. The Growing Dome is meant to make things easier, but if you bring bugs into your Growing Dome, you can lose the rest of the year.
- Connect with the community. If you have a problem, ask. Someone will be jumping at the opportunity to answer your question.