Earth Sheltered Greenhouse

The Earth Sheltered Greenhouse is a marriage between the root cellar and the standard greenhouse.   In our climate, the standard greenhouse with glass or plastic on all sides really does not make sense, since a large portion of the energy from the sun, coming in the south side, leaks out the north side.   By building the back wall into a hillside, with a concrete wall to collect sun energy, and using earth for insulation and as a direct source of warmth in winter and cooling in summer, we can create a much more efficient and inexpensive way to grow food year round.

Our test version is being built on a hillside at the O’Brien Farm on Mt. Scio in St. John’s, where it will demonstrate our capacity to grow healthy food year-round in a challenging northern climate. This project is the result of six years of collaboration that began with an intensive design process undertaken by three undergraduate students in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Memorial University.

After that, we were lucky to engage twenty-one local stakeholders, each of whom represented a different organization and point of view. These consultants included farmers, educators, a professor of medicine, indigenous leaders and representatives of provincial Agrifoods. In ten hours of consultation, without one instance of bullshit politics, these wonderful advisors generated 270 recommendations. If you would like a copy of the consultation report, click here.

We began the construction phase, in partnership with the O’Brien Farm Foundation, with additional support from a growing list of local businesses and contractors, in 2021. We are still waiting for work on the building to be completed, hoping to have it operational as a demonstration and training site by the Spring of 2023.

Here is an article published in the MUN Gazette, describing the partnership behind this project.

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