Mother Nature can be pretty rough on farmers. Imagine an entire tomato crop destroyed by hail or your orchard in full bloom wiped out by a late frost. Or perhaps worst of all, being forced to let go your trained and trusted crew because winter’s finally here and you can't afford to keep them. Like most farmers, these are problems we face every year. A winter snow storm doesn’t change the fact that people still want fresh, local food. And the end of a growing season doesn’t mean that a farm worker no longer needs employment. In our search for new solutions, we landed on an old idea: growing food year round in greenhouses but wanted to do it without breaking the bank. Our solution was to build super efficient passive solar greenhouses we call the "Chimney Rockhouse".
The Chimney Rockhouse structure is based on an ancient Chinese design requiring no additional heat to grow cold weather, leafy vegetables. The mountains of Southwest Colorado have a similar climate to parts of northern China so we super-insulated the end walls and used a solid cement block wall as a structural spine. Why cement? "More mass Grasshopper..." Cement walls, concrete floors and aquaponics water store a lot of heat that is slowly released in the greenhouse moderating temperature swings. The net result is less supplemental heat is required which minimizes plant shock . Happy plants make happy farmers!
The unique curved design of the Rockhouse cuts the volume of air to be heated in half while also making temperature regulation more manageable.
In choosing the glazing material for the roof of the Rockhouse we focused on effectiveness and low maintenance. Our glazing material transmits 10% more sunlight than glass, promoting faster growth and shorter cycle times. That means larger harvests, which translates into more profit! The glazing material also lasts a very long time, with several greenhouses still performing strong after 40 years! Combine all of this with the fact that the structure is strong enough to withhold a 90 pound snow load, and it’s safe to say that it is the ideal greenhouse for year-round growing in nearly all climates.
It’s important for us to not just grow more plants year-round, but rather to grow the highest-quality plants available on the market that go beyond organic to include sustainable best practices such as renewable energy production. The Chimney Rockhouse easily converts from vegetables to hemp production, giving us a versatility and resiliency rarely seen in traditional farming. Whether we are growing pure hemp for CBD Nutraceutical Manufacturers or wholesome food for local grocery stores, the combination of the growing environment merged with our aquaponics system produces 15-20% more biomass in less time. Photosynthesis in our greenhouse is way above par, due to the curvature of the laminated wood beams which focuses sunlight on the plants much like a parabolic solar collector.
Our staff consists of some of the most highly skilled and motivated folks in the business. Each member of our team plays a vital role in our mission to grow pure food and hemp. Since we are able to farm year-round thanks to the Rockhouse design, we are also able to keep our staff employed and busy all winter. Our ability to maintain a tight-knit crew means we benefit from greater teamwork resulting in more productivity later in the summer months.
Our Rockhouses are not just for winter growing. The passive venting system also allows us to keep the greenhouse at ideal temperatures during the hot summer months as well. We look forward to combining our greenhouses and crop fields to grow even more pure food and hemp than ever in 2016!