by Amanda Benkert of Dome Grown Produce
The dream of Dome Grown Produce began in 2010 when my husband and I purchased our first greenhouse. It is a 26’ geodesic dome kit from Growing Spaces in Colorado that utilizes passive solar technology and unique undersoil heating tubes in raised beds. These features help us grow vegetables, herbs and citrus year round. We disassembled and moved the Growing Dome to our new 20-acre farm in the summer of 2013, where we continue growing today. The dome is the heart of the farm where the veggie starts stay warm in late winter and friends and family gather to enjoy the space. Our four-year-old son loves feeding the fish we have in the 1,400 gallon water tank which acts as a heat sink. We have since built another hoop-house, a heated year round commercial greenhouse, and the latest are two 100 foot caterpillar tunnels that are great at extending the seasons. These simple to complex structures are so important in our always-changing spring and fall weather. They all offer varying degrees of warmth and protection from the elements. One of the main goals of Dome Grown Produce has always been to provide quality, fresh and nourishing foods to everyone regardless of economic limitations. By increasing our ability to extend and expand our capacity to grow produce, we are able to increase the amount and variety of fresh food available in the community.
Central Oregon is a challenging environment to grow food and requires the use of season extenders to mitigate the fluctuations in temperature, wind, soil erosion, water evaporation and pest issues. Due to the microclimate in a season extender, crops tend to be of higher nutritional value and have higher production quantities than field-grown crops.
Food security is important for a community, and community is important to small, local family farms like ours. The most crucial way a community member can help strengthen the food system and help contribute to small local farms is through shopping at local grocers like Central Oregon Locavore, Schoolhouse Produce and Melvin’s, attending one of our numerous farmer’s markets or purchasing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share. CSA shares are a subscription to a season’s worth of sustainable, locally grown produce for members throughout the harvesting season. It is a form of investment that allows small farmers to grow exactly what is pre sold. CSA members enjoy the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables for their family, while supporting their local farmer.
Dome Grown Produce is offering an exciting new way for the people of Central Oregon to support the farm and their local food by purchasing Harvest Bucks. These cards will be available in smaller dollar amounts to use at the farmers markets and cardholders receive an added ten percent of goods for purchasing the cards ahead of time. It’s a great way for people to save a little money and still support local food without the large up-front investment and time commitment of a regular share style CSA. Our cards allow you to come shop at our market booth with ‘credit’ and buy exactly what your family will eat.
photos courtesy of Dome Grown Produce